Detecting Allergies in Children

By Heather Legg

I recently wrote about detecting allergies in infants and toddlers, however, not all allergies are diagnosed or even suspected at that young age. My daughter wasn’t diagnosed with her tree nut allergy until late in her kindergarten year, though she had had a few episodes of hives and vomiting incidents that we connected to the allergy.

So what leads to parents to allergy testing in childhood years? What are some signs to look for? As mentioned, my daughter had some indicators later on, but, well, I just didn’t know. She broke out in hives a few times, and had an itchy mouth and even vomited once or twice for no apparent reason. Of course, now I look I at it and clearly see food allergies, we just didn’t know about it then.

Clearly, those symptoms – hives, nausea, swelling of the face, vomiting – all point to food allergies. Those are symptoms from ingestion of something that one is severely allergic too, epipen allergic, not just intolerance, avoidance allergy. But what about hay fever, environmental, or intolerances? How do you know these things are going on in your child?

Other ongoing symptoms that may warrant some investigation are things like itching eyes, stuffy nose, dark circles under the eyes. Wheezing and hives and skin irritations can be indicators as can digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea, gas or basic upset stomach. Eczema is a strong indicator of a more mild, but constant allergy. Any of these can also point to other ailments, though, and that is where it gets tricky. Runny noses could be mistaken for colds, digestive issues can be chalked up to stomach flu or overeating, while often eczema is looked at as just that, not a condition related to something else.

Performance in school can also be effected, as allergies cause general discomfort. They also lead to poor sleeping habits sometimes, which in turn can effect the ability to pay attention and perform optimumly. If you feel your child may not be doing his best, think about allergies. I have many friends use this as an indicator, especially at a young age when they are first entering school.

If any of these are standing out as symptoms, think about keeping a food diary. Visiting an allergist or alternative practitioner is another option to determine what it is bothering your child. Of course, if it is a pet, environmental or seasonal allergy, a food diary won’t help. But you can note when symptoms arise, like the watery, itchy eyes or irritability that comes with allergies, and if you notice patterns, relate it back to what your child has been doing.

Allergies are sometimes so inconsistent that even detecting them is difficult. But once that has been determined, you can start on preventative and treatment options, and hopefully they symptoms can either be avoided or gotten under control.

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September 1st, 2017 | 8:34 pm
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