It’s hard to tell sometimes. But since the incidence of allergies is rising in children, it's good to have an idea of what to look for. The following guidelines are from The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child's Allergies and Asthma.
When to Suspect an Allergy
Repeated or chronic cold-like symptoms that last more than a week or 2, or develop at about the same time every year. These could include a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, sneezing, throat clearing, and itchy, watery eyes.
Recurrent coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms might be a sign of asthma. Coughing may be an isolated symptom; symptoms that increase at night or with exercise are suspicious for asthma.
Recurrent red, itchy, dry, sometime scaly rashes in the creases of the elbows and/or knees, or on the back of the neck, buttocks, wrists, or ankles.
Symptoms--including hives, swelling, gagging, coughing or wheezing, vomiting or significant abdominal pain--that occur repeatedly after eating a particular food.
Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth, throat, and/or ears during certain times of year or after eating certain foods.
Common Allergens at Home
Dust mites (dust mites are microscopic and are found in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpet, as well as other places)
Molds and fungi (including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye)
Foods (cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, and fish and shellfish are common offenders)
Any allergic reaction that causes a severe reaction, one that includes facial swelling and difficulty breathing, is called anaphylaxis and needs prompt medical evaluation. Typically, we see this more with certain food allergies or bee-sting allergies.
Other allergies (like “hay fever,” “seasonal allergies,” or allergies to pets) are typically associated with the more common symptoms that people associate with allergies: nose congestion, itchy, watery eyes, and the like.
In a future blog, I will discuss strategies for managing these irritating allergy symptoms.