Family Health Guide

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Allergies: Symptoms

Allergic Rhinitis (airborne allergies, including seasonal and indoor)  

This is the most common of allergy problems and can make children miserable. A constantly stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and coughing are typical. Children with allergies may also have itchy, watery eyes, dark circles under the eyes, and chronic ear problems. Depending on the trigger, symptoms can occur seasonally or year-round.  
When allergies are present, itching may also occur in places a child can’t get to easily, such as the inside of the nose and ears or on the roof of the mouth.  This is the kid that wrinkles or rubs her nose or grimaces to relieve the uncomfortable sensations. An allergic child may wake up tired and cranky. “Children with allergies can experience ‘micro-arousals’ during the night due to their stopped-up noses,” says pediatric allergist Linda S. Cox, M.D., immediate past chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s Immunotherapy and Diagnostic committee. “It interrupts the quality of their sleep and results in fatigue that carries over into the next day.”  
Is it a cold or allergies? Check for these symptoms:   

Mucus: Thin, clear
Duration: Two weeks+ duration   
Fever: No 
Itching: Yes 
Sneezing: Repetitive 
Mucus: Thick, yellow  
Duration:  No more than two weeks  
Fever: Sometimes 
Itching: No   
Sneezing: Occasional  
Food Allergies  
Food allergies can start during the first year or even the first months of life. Major culprits include milk, egg and soy. To a lesser extent, small children may react to tree nuts and peanuts. Children who are allergic to foods may experience allergic symptoms when they come into contact with the offending food or often within minutes of eating even a trace of it. Reactions can include:

  • rashes
  • hives—itchy bug-bite-like welts on the body
  • stomach pain with vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • difficult breathing
  • swelling in the mouth and throat  

When a child experiences severe symptoms in at least two body systems (say, skin and respiratory), it can signal anaphylaxis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.  The most serious symptoms are compromised breathing and blood circulation.