An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that’s harmless to most people. In Spring we see more of Pollen Related Allergy Symptoms

In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system of the allergic person produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Those antibodies then cause mast cells and basophils (allergy cells in the body) to release chemicals (including histamine) into the bloodstream to defend against the allergen “invader.”

It’s the release of these chemicals that causes allergic reactions, affect- ing a person’s eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract as the body attempts to rid itself of the invading allergen. Future exposure to that same allergen will trigger this allergic response again. This means that every time the person eats that particular food or is exposed to that particular allergen, he or she will have an allergic reaction.

Allergies can be Seasonal (happening only at certain times of the year, like when pollen counts are high) or can occur any time someone comes in contact with an allergen.

Who Gets Allergies?

The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, which means it can be passed down through your genes. However, just because you, your partner, or one of your children might have allergies doesn’t mean that all of your kids will definitely get them, too. And someone usually doesn’t inherit a particular allergy, just the likelihood of having allergies. But a few kids have allergies even if no family member is allergic. And a child who is allergic to one substance is likely to be allergic to others

Airborne Allergy Symptoms

Airborne allergens can cause some- thing known as allergic rhinitis, which occurs in about 7% to 10% of Canadians. It usually develops by 10 years of age and reaches its peak in the teens or early twenties, with symptoms often disappearing between the ages of 40 and 60.

Symptoms can include:

Sneezing

Itchy nose and/or throat

Nasal congestion

Coughing

The diagnosis involves doing Allergy testing by a Professional

Diagnosing Allergies

Some allergies are fairly easy to identify because the pattern of symptoms following exposure to certain allergens can be hard to miss. But other allergies are less obvious because they can be similar to other conditions. If your child has cold-like symptoms lasting longer than a week or two or develops a “cold” at the same time every year, consult your doctor, who will likely ask questions about the symptoms and when they appear. Based on the answers and a physical exam, the doctor might be able to make a diagnosis and prescribe medicines, or may refer you to an allergist for allergy tests and more extensive therapy.

To find the cause of an allergy, allergists usually do skin tests for the most common environmental and food allergens. A skin test can work in one of two ways:

A drop of a purified liquid form of the allergen is dropped onto the skin and the area is pricked with a small pricking device. A small amount of allergen is injected just under the skin.

This test stings a little but isn’t extremely painful. After about 15 minutes, if a lump surrounded by a reddish area appears (like a mosquito bite) at the injection site, the test is positive.

As an alternative test, blood tests may be used in children with skin conditions, those who are on certain medicines, or those who are extremely sensitive to a particular allergen.

Even if a skin test and/or a blood test shows an allergy, a child must also have symptoms to be diagnosed with an allergy. For example, a toddler who has a positive test for dust mites and sneezes a lot while playing on the floor would be considered allergic to dust mite

Treating Allergies

If reducing exposure to environmen- tal allergens isn’t possible or is inef- fective, medicines may be prescribed, including antihistamines (which you can also buy over the counter), eye drops, and nasal sprays.

In some cases, an allergist may recommend allergy shots,to help desensitize someone with an allergy. However, allergy shots are only helpful for allergens such as dust, mold, pollens, animals.

Here are some things that can help kids avoid airborne allergens:

Keep family pets out of certain rooms, like your child’s bedroom.

Remove carpets or rugs from your child’s room (hard floor surfaces don’t collect dust as much as car- pets do).

Don’t hang heavy drapes and get rid of other items that allow dust to build up.

Clean when your child is not in the room.

Use special covers to seal pillows and mattresses if your child is allergic to dust mites.

For kids allergic to pollen, keep the windows closed when the pollen season is at its peak, change their clothing and bathe them after they’ve been outdoors, and don’t let them mow the lawn.

Keep kids who are allergic to mold away from damp areas, such as some basements, and keep bathrooms and other mold-prone areas clean and dry.