Babies are delicate bundles of joy. With their immunity taking little baby steps to get stronger and better, they are prone to infections, allergies, colic…oh what not. No matter, how much precautions, we as parents take, babies can get infections and allergies in children can be a thing of common occurrence.
Some time or the other, we all have experienced our children having cold, cough, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, rashes, etc. Most parents jump to conclusion that all the symptoms listed here, are due to infections. Well NO! Allergies can produce similar symptoms in babies. But the BIG dilemma for the parents is to identify, whether the child has an infection or an allergy. Let us first understand, what an allergy is.
What is an Allergy?
It is the overreaction of the body’s immune system to a substance it has ingested, or to a substance to which it has been exposed. The allergy causing substances are called allergens. Simply put, the body’s immune system attacks a harmless substance, assuming it to be a disease-causing virus or bacteria.
Well, it would be not prudent to assume that our immune system will attack every substance it comes across. There are common allergy-causing substances, which parents should be aware of. Let’s get to know more about the allergens.
Also Read: Can blankets cause allergies?
Common and Not-so-common Allergens
#1. Common Allergens
The common allergens in food are nuts, cow’s milk, wheat, banana, seafood, certain additives in food and medicines, etc. The common allergens in the environment are pollen, dust, pet hair etc.
If your baby is allergic to any of the common allergens, it becomes very difficult to identify the true culprit, as your child might have got exposed to multiple common allergens. So, it becomes a guessing game to find out, what caused the allergic reaction.
The best thing you can do is to, keep a list of all the common allergens that your child came in contact with, in the past 24 hours. When the child experiences an allergic reaction again, you can cross check your list, to find out the common allergens the child was exposed to.
#2. Not-so-common Allergens
Some of the not-so-common allergens are beetroot, corn, leather, sun rays, certain metals like nickel etc. It is very tough to diagnose if the allergic reaction is to a not-so-common allergen.For eg., my daughter used to get skin rashes on the cheeks and chin, whenever she used to posses the breast milk.
Always keep track of everything that your baby came in touch with, that he/she usually doesn’t. The other way to identify such allergies, is to get an allergy test done by the doctor.
Well, your precious bundle won't be allergic to every known allergen. Many a time, a child outgrows the allergy. But how do you know that your baby’s immune system is fighting like a ninja warrior? By watching for the symptoms of course.
Symptoms of allergy
Some of the common symptoms of allergy are:
- Skin rashes, hives, urticaria
- Bronchitis, wheezing
- Runny nose, sneezing, dry cough
- Stomach upset, vomiting
Aren’t many of the symptoms similar to that of infections, typical in children?
Also Read: How to identify and deal with breastmilk allergy in babies?
Differences between an allergy and an infection
If your child is experiencing some of the symptoms often, it is best to get it examined for possible allergies. However, due to the developing immune system, children might get frequent infections, which makes it more difficult to identify an allergy.
For example, if your child has a runny nose with cloudy discharge, accompanied by fever, it could be an infection
, in all probability. If your child has persistent thin, watery discharge, it could be an allergy.
If your child gets an upset stomach, only on eating certain food items, it could be an allergic reaction to the food eaten. Skin rashes or hives, if accompanied by fever, could signal an infection. Otherwise, the skin allergy should subside within a week.This sounds appalling. But why should your baby be allergic, when neither you nor your spouse have any allergies?
Why is my baby allergic?
Allergies can develop in any child, irrespective of whether you or your spouse have allergies or not. If you have a known allergy, the chances of your child getting the same are 33%. If you and your spouse both have a known allergy, then your child’s chances are 70%.
When to seek medical help?
Allergies tend to subside, once the contact with allergen is stopped. Some allergies like skin rashes, wheezing etc., may need some medication to provide relief. However, there is a severe, life-threatening form of allergic reaction known as Anaphylaxis. It is a severe form of allergy, which involves more than one part of the body such as skin, lungs, mouth etc. The symptoms of anaphylaxis are:
- Wheezing, shortness of breath
- Skin rashes or hives
- Swelling of lips, tongue, facial muscles, etc.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
The child may present, many of these symptoms, on exposure to the allergen. Anaphylaxis needs to be treated immediately, and the affected child may need to be under constant medical supervision, till recovery.
Also Read: Common Infections During Pregnancy And How To Avoid Them
Prevention of allergies in children
Yes, allergies have to be prevented, as there is no permanent cure! Though certain medications like antihistamines, do provide relief during an allergy break-out, it is better to avoid exposing your child to the allergens.
Tips for prevention of allergies in children
- Use dust-mite-proof covers on mattresses and pillows.
- Avoid your pets going into the baby’s room.
- Make your child stay indoors, if allergic to pollen.
- Avoid carpets in your child’s room. Wash sheets, covers and curtains regularly.
- When starting on solids, always introduce the well-known allergy-causing foods like banana, wheat, etc., with a gap of at least 15 days.
Finally, allergies in children are common, and not to be highly concerned about. It is helpful for your child, if you keep track of the type of allergen, the season and the symptoms of allergy, so as to manage it, without causing much discomfort to the child.
Also read: Throat Infection in Kids: Symptoms, causes and home remedies to cure throat infection
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