An allergy is a condition where the body shows hypersensitivity to certain normally harmless environmental substances. The body’s reaction can be very sudden and in the most serious cases it can be fatal if not treated immediately.
So let’s look at some of the most common allergies and their symptoms.
Nut allergies are the most common types of allergy in the UK. They can last for a lifetime and children rarely grown out of them. A peanut allergy can be very severe and it only takes consumption of a very small amount to induce a serious reaction. Sometimes just inhaling the air around a peanut can trigger it. Severity of the reaction can range from itchy eyes, blotchy rashes and hives on the skin, to severe swelling of the mouth, lips and throat, and even diarrhea, vomiting and wheezing. It can also induce anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylactic shock is the most severe allergic reaction. It occurs very suddenly and leads to restriction and difficulty in breathing. If not treated immediately it can be fatal. The milder symptoms can be treated with antihistamines but if your child seems to be experiencing any symptoms of anaphylaxis there are a number of things that you should do. First and foremost, call 999 as this should be treated as a medical emergency. If possible, remove the food or substance which you think has caused the allergic reaction. If the child is having difficulty breathing then loosen all clothing and make sure that they sit upright. If the child has collapsed or become unconscious, then put them in the recovery position with their head tilted back to open up the airway.
Egg allergy often occurs in young children and generally shows itself through a rash, swelling around the mouth, diarrhea and vomiting and very rarely anaphylaxis. Generally children grow out of this allergy in adulthood. Make sure your child avoids all foods containing egg or egg products and remember that some vaccines can contain egg too, your doctor can advise you on this.
Allergy to Shellfish is quite common and is often extreme. Generally sufferers show sensitivity to shellfish such as shrimps, prawns, lobsters, crabs, crayfish, oysters, scallops, mussels and clams. Reactions can be really severe with hives immediately appearing on the skin, swelling of the face and throat, vomiting, wheezing, and in extreme cases anaphylactic shock.
There are skin patch tests and blood tests that can show if your child is allergic to certain foods and although they’re not 100% accurate, they are useful to help identify possible allergies and you can get more information from your doctor.
Nearly everyone has a painful and itchy reaction to a wasp or bee sting but some people are allergic and have a more severe reaction. Most stings will swell like this but if the body reacts more there are certain symptoms to look out for. The reaction is again very sudden and tell-tale signs are; itching on other parts of the body, a raised heart beat, and the child may also feel dizzy have swelling of the face and again in extreme cases anyphalaxis. If you’re in any way worried then call 999 immediately.
Penicillin is the most common drug allergy. The reaction causes itching, raised red blotches on the skin, wheezing, and general swelling. This picture shows an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin which is a common form of Penecillin but every reaction can look different. Severe cases can cause fever and blistering of the skin, which can be life threatening.
If you’re worried that you child may be allergic then speak to your doctor about having tests to find out. Amoxicillin allergy is detectable by a skin patch test or a blood test and although these tests aren’t 100% reliable they are still worth doing. Theyíre available on the NHS but remember there may be a waiting list.
Another very common allergy is Pollen allergy, also known as hayfever. Hayfever often occurs in the spring and summer months when there is an increase in pollen count in the air. The symptoms are generally mild and include sneezing, itchy nose and mouth, watery eyes, swelling of the skin and wheezing. If you suspect that your child may have hayfever there is a test available. Basically your GP will prick the surface of the skin on the inside of the arm with a needle that has a tiny amount of the pollen on it and if your child is allergic the skin around it will go red and swell up or become itchy.
With regard to all allergies the most important thing is to know what’s normal for your child and what’s not normal. The truth is most allergies aren’t too serious and can be dealt with using basic over the counter medications. Others, however, can be life threatening if not treated quickly, so if you suspect a more severe allergy then get medical advice as soon as you possibly can so that you can act quickly and correctly in the case of emergency.
In this video Dr Christian discusses allergies: what they are, what their consequences are, and how they can be treated. First up for assessment are the common food allergies to nut, egg and shellfish. Dr Christian explains how these allergies affect the body, from the mild reactions, such as blotchy rashes, to the severe and fatal, such as anaphylactic shock, and how these reactions can be treated. Next up for discussion are other types of allergies, such as wasp and bee sting allergies, penicillin allergies and pollen allergies, or hayfever. If you’re worried your child may be allergic to anything then speak to your doctor, who can perform skin patch and prick tests and blood tests, to find out if your child possesses any allergies.
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