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Normally, your child’s immune system is programmed to fight off harmful viruses and bacteria that can make them sick. However, sometimes the immune system overreacts, identifying harmless things such as dust mites, pollen and pets as allergens that threaten the body and must be attacked. The result is an allergic reaction.
Many substances can trigger an allergic reaction, and different children are allergic to different things. Allergies in children are most frequently caused by:
When a child has an allergic reaction, the body releases a chemical called histamine, which in turn sets off symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening. The most common allergy symptoms include:
In severe cases, allergies can cause anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical treatment.
Mercy pediatricians know how to help your child get relief from allergies. We start by finding out what’s causing the allergic reaction by evaluating your child’s symptoms and the environment with a thorough history and physical examination. We may recommend skin or blood tests to look for specific allergens. For food allergies, an elimination diet can help identify the culprits.
Next, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan that may include one or a combination of the following treatment options.
Often, environmental allergies in children can be relieved by making changes such as placing dust covers on bedding, using an air purifier or doing saline nasal rinses to rinse out allergens.
Several over-the-counter medications can help relieve symptoms and minimize future allergic reactions.
Remember, these are powerful medications. Talk to your pediatrician first about which ones are right for your child, appropriate doses, and how often to use them.
If over-the-counter remedies are not effective for your child, stronger prescription medications are available to treat symptoms and ward off allergic reactions.
Also known as immunotherapy, allergy shots can help desensitize your child’s immune system to specific allergens so that it doesn’t react to them. Shots are usually given once or twice for a year or longer, and then gradually decreased over time.
Epinephrine is a form of adrenaline used to stop a severe allergic reaction in an emergency. It is given by injection. If your child has life-threatening allergies, your Mercy pediatrician may recommend that you or your child carry epinephrine at all times.
Allergies can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but they are treatable. Count on Mercy to help your child overcome allergy symptoms and live more comfortably.
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive testing services to diagnose conditions and injuries, including:
At Mercy, we offer compassionate care for a variety of treatment services, including:
At Mercy Kids, we care for children from birth through adolescence, through anything childhood brings.
Learn more about our children's care services.