5 signs your child may have allergies

Suspicious of that sniffly nose? Curious about that cough? Read on to decode some common allergic cues

Wondering if your kid has allergies? Here are the common signs of allergies in kids.

History of allergy in the family

What it means: Along with eye colour and personality quirks, parents can pass on their predisposition to allergies. In fact, family history is one of the greatest predictors of allergies in children, says Zave Chad, an allergist and clinical immunologist in Ottawa. “Allergic kids often come from allergic parents,” he says. The genetic link won’t guarantee a certain allergy is passed along, though similar allergies tend to run in families, says Roxanne MacKnight, a family doctor in Miramichi, N.B.

What to do: Let your kid’s doctor know about your family history, and keep an eye out for any symptoms, like hives, wheezing, vomiting after eating, or an itchy nose and watery eyes.

Runny nose and itchy eyes

What it means: While both a cold and allergies can give a child a runny nose, if it’s accompanied by itchy eyes, or throat, and the child doesn’t have a fever or other signs of sickness, then it is likely seasonal allergies rather than a cold.

What to do: If your kid is over age 2, you could try giving them a non-sedating antihistamine to see if their symptoms subside. Keep in mind, though, that seasonal allergies typically don’t develop until a child is 6. You should always talk to your kid’s doctor before giving medication.

Dry, scaly rash

What it means: Eczema, which typically appears during an infant’s first year, may be triggered by certain foods in your baby’s diet, but it is also known to be an inherited condition. The good news is 80 percent of children who have eczema will outgrow it. The tricky part: it may make way for another type of allergy, Chad says. “We call this evolution from one allergy to another the ‘allergic march.’”

What to do: A daily bath and then using a moisturizer protects the skin barrier. If the eczema persists or gets worse, make an appointment with your kid’s doctor.

A stubborn cough (that’s triggered when your kid laughs, cries, runs around or becomes nervous)

What it means: If the cough persists for weeks or months and is accompanied by other cold-like symptoms—itchy, watery eyes, stuffy, runny nose—it may be a sign of asthma triggered by dust, pollen, pollution or pets.

What to do: The first thing is to track it—take note of when the coughing occurs and what seems to trigger it. Does your child dissolve into a hacking fit at the same time of day or time of year? It’s also important to ensure it’s not a cold or virus and that environmental factors—like common germs at daycare, smokers or a wood burning stove at home—are not to blame. Once all of those possibilities are eliminated and a proper history has been taken, your doctor will prescribe a course of action.

Vomiting and abdominal pain shortly after eating

What it means When a child has a food allergy, there’s no delay to the signs—symptoms like projectile vomiting, respiratory and skin reactions, and, less commonly diarrhea and hives, appear quickly, typically within minutes to a half an hour, and no more than two hours after eating. Common food triggers in infants include milk, eggs, nuts, sesame and soy, while wheat and shellfish allergies usually show up in older children and adults, Chad says.

What to do Parents should consult with their child’s doctor immediately in the case of symptoms like vomiting and respiratory issues. And if your child is having difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance right away. For other symptoms Chad recommends parents keep a food diary, track reactions and try to eliminate questionable foods to see if the reaction persists.

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