Conditions treated

Childhood Allergies

Childhood Allergies

Childhood Allergies

Are childhood allergies common?

Childhood allergic respiratory diseases are very common. The incidence of childhood asthma alone or in combination with allergic rhinitis is increasing globally including in India and is on the rise in both urban and rural set ups. The two most common manifestations of the above are allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma.

Why do allergies occur?

Allergies occur due to interplay of certain triggers which irritate our immune system and are perceived as dangerous to our health. Atopic children have a certain genetic predisposition to develop immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to a variety of both dietary and inhalant allergens to which they are exposed. Hence, after the first exposure, which is perceived as dangerous, our body develops a process called sensitization. When we are exposed to that particular trigger or irritant again, our body responds a huge, but, well organized response, by releasing chemical mediators which causes an immediate and a late response. But the truth is that not all triggers are bad. They are perceived by our immune system as such. Let me explain. If someone is smoking in the room, some people would not feel any symptoms, whereas some other person, who is sensitized, might start wheezing or feel breathless. So, it is all about how our immune system perceives a trigger.

Should we do serum IgE test to diagnose allergies?

IgE may be commonly elevated in children with parasitic infections especially in tropical countries and may remain so for prolonged durations. Some children have a genetic predisposition to having elevated IgE levels. So an increased serum IgE E level does not always predict an allergy.

My child keeps having repeated episodes of running nose and sneezing. Is it allergy?

Running nose and sneezing episodes are all a part of nasal allergy also called as allergic rhinitis. It is an expression of the hypersensitivity response of the mucous membrane of the nasal passage presenting as recurrent episodes of sneezing, nasal discharge, and nasal block which if recurrent may result in noisy breathing or snoring due to nasal obstruction.

How does one diagnose allergies?

The most commonly used test to diagnose IgE mediated allergic diseases is the SPT or the skin prick tests. They demonstrate an allergic response to a specific allergen. Common allergens implicated are fungal spores, pollen grains, dust mites, insect debris, animal epithelia etc. Other tests are total and specific Ig E levels, and nasal and peripheral eosinophilia

What is the treatment of allergies?

The current approach to manage an allergic child, is to identify ‘at risk’ children, avoidance of potentially sensitizing dietary and inhalant allergens in early life, and recognition of evolving allergic diseases.

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