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Allergies in children and adolescents

30 March 2022

What are allergies?

Allergies are abnormal immune responses to substances that generally do not cause a reaction in most individuals. A person can be allergic to anything from foods and pollen, to pet dander and dust mites. Allergic reactions range from mild skin irritation or sneezing, to more serious respiratory problems like asthma attacks. In children and adolescents, allergies can have a serious impact on their health and wellbeing.

What are the signs and symptoms of an allergy?

The most common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction in children and adolescents include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing or difficulty breathing, redness or swelling of the skin, hives or rashes. In some cases a child may also experience vomiting and diarrhea after eating certain foods.

What is a mild to moderate allergic reaction?

A mild to moderate allergic reaction is typically characterised by the presence of a rash, hives, sneezing or coughing. In some cases these reactions may be accompanied by itching and swelling in the affected area. It is important to seek medical advice if you believe your child may have an allergy as they can provide appropriate treatment for managing symptoms.

What is a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis?

Severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Common signs of severe reactions can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and fainting. It is important to be aware of these symptoms as they may require urgent medical intervention.

What are common allergies?

The most common allergies in children and adolescents include food allergies, environmental allergies such as dust mites or pet dander, and seasonal allergies such as hay fever caused by pollen. Other types of allergens can include insect stings and medications like antibiotics.

What can you do if you are concerned your child may have an allergy?

If you are concerned your child may have an allergy, it is important to speak to your doctor who can discuss the symptoms and advise on any further tests or treatments. It is also important to identify what the allergen is so that it can be avoided in the future. It is also a good idea to keep an up-to-date record of any reactions or incidents that may be related to an allergic reaction, as this can help your doctor in the diagnosis and management of the allergy.

How are allergies diagnosed?

Allergies are typically diagnosed through skin prick tests or blood tests. Skin prick tests can be used to detect allergies to a variety of common allergens, while blood tests can help determine the presence of specific antibodies related to an allergen. It is important to note that these tests may not always give conclusive results and it is best to discuss the results with your doctor before taking any action.

What causes allergies?

The exact causes of allergies are still unknown, however there is a strong genetic component that means if one family member has an allergy then other members may also be affected. Allergies can also develop over time due to exposure to certain allergens, or as the result of a weakened immune system.

What treatments are available for children and adolescents with allergies in Australia?

In Australia, there are a range of treatments available for children and adolescents with allergies. These can include medications such as antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction, or immunotherapy which involves exposing a person to increasing amounts of an allergen over time so that they become desensitised to it. It is important to speak to a doctor or allergist to determine which treatment is best for you.

What lifestyle changes can you make to help manage allergies?

Making lifestyle changes can help to manage allergies and reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. This can include avoiding triggers, such as certain foods or environments, which may cause a reaction. It is also important to monitor your child’s diet and ensure they are eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition, it is important to ensure that your home is free from dust mites and other allergens, as these can trigger an allergic reaction.

What financial support is available for children and adolescents with allergies in Australia?

In Australia, there is financial help available for families of children and adolescents with allergies. This can include government subsidies on medications or support services such as nutrition advice or allergy counselling. It is important to speak to your doctor or local health service provider about what financial assistance may be available.

How can you look after yourself and your family?

It is important to look after yourself and your family if they have allergies. This includes staying informed about the latest treatments, being aware of potential triggers and developing an action plan in case of an allergic reaction. It is also important to ensure that you are taking steps to manage stress levels as this can help reduce the risk of a severe reaction or even an anaphylactic shock. Finally, it is important to remember that you are not alone and there are support services available if you need help or advice.