Can My Child’s Health Problems be Allergies?

The other day I was talking with my friend. We both have children in kindergarten, which can be a rough year on their health. It’s the first time a lot of kids are exposed to certain germs and illnesses; it’s the first time many of them are out in “the real world.” She expressed concern, however, that it wasn’t just a cold here and strep throat there; her little boy just wasn’t shaking it. She was tired of antibiotics that weren’t really helping and was wondering if she should seek help from an allergist or homeopathic practitioner instead of simply the pediatrician.

As she described her child, it did sound like allergies, and not just the symptoms that may be mistaken for a cold, like runny nose and sneezing. There are certain indicators that may point to allergies even when your child isn’t sick, and these shouldn’t be ignored. Here are some of the common signs that your child may have allergies:

• Cold like symptoms that don’t seem to fully go away in couple of weeks, or exhibit the natural progression of a cold.
• Consistent ear infections or sinus infections.
• Tiredness or lethargy even when no other symptoms are showing.
• Red, irritated eyes.
• Dry, itchy skin that may progress to hives.
• Inability to pay attention or focus (often times, kids are mistakenly thought to have ADHD when it is really allergies causing the inattention).
• Trouble sleeping (their breathing is impaired and therefore it’s harder to sleep).
• Chronic cough.
• Symptoms recurring at the same time of the year for a consecutive number of years.

Usually with allergies we either think food allergy symptoms like swelling and anaphylaxis, or environmental and we think of symptoms as sneezing, actively itchy eyes and throat, and runny nose. There are lots of other symptoms, though, that tend to hang around and just make kids feel lousy. School performance can be affected, as well as overall mood and general well being. Antibiotics and cold medicine will not help allergy symptoms (sometimes antibiotics may be needed if there is an ear or sinus infection as the result of constant congestion due to allergies, but otherwise they won’t be beneficial).

Instead, your best bet is to try and figure out the allergen. If it is difficult for you to diagnose, see an allergist or holistic practitioner to help you. Then you can come up with a treatment to help either rid your child of the allergy, avoid what you can, or pursue allergy shots or the use of the right medication.

A lot of my friends know that their children have certain minor allergies that make them feel uncomfortable at certain times of the years or in certain situations. They keep saying they will seek treatment, but put it off as it’s not life-threatening or severe. However, it’s a new year and a good time to follow through on helping your child to be the most productive, the healthiest and the most comfortable he can be.

– Heather Legg

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