Kids should spend their time riding bikes, making friends, learning and enjoying childhood. When your child suffers from allergies or asthma, it can be difficult for him or her to participate in normal, healthy activities. The good news is that a pediatric allergist can help. These experts understand the importance of making your child feel well and can offer effective treatments. At Asthma Allergy Centre in Tigard, OR, we help children of all ages overcome their symptoms.
What Is a Pediatric Allergist?
A pediatric allergist is a specialist who can treat children suffering from a variety of allergy-related conditions. These include:
- Hay fever
- Trouble breathing
- Sinus problems
- Food allergies
- Insect allergies
- Pet allergies
- Nose and eye allergies
Training and Certification
Allergists who treat children receive extensive medical training. Their journey starts with medical school, after which they complete three or four years of residency training for pediatrics, internal medicine, or a combination of the two. Finally, allergists obtain certification that is specific to their field. This training makes pediatric allergists highly qualified to work with children and improve their symptoms.
Children and Allergies
While many parents take their children to a family pediatrician for allergy care, an allergy specialist can better understand your child’s symptoms and how they affect his or her life. Many children who do not see a specialist are over-prescribed steroids and outdated treatments, often for many years. An allergy specialist can recommend the most effective strategies to help your child feel better.
In addition to providing the best treatments available for your child, an allergy specialist who works with children specifically will be able to understand how allergies impact your child’s life. He or she will ask questions about your child’s routine at home and at school, including details about possible triggers in these environments. From there, he or she will be able to recommend changes that can ease your child’s symptoms.
Parents and Families
Beyond understanding your child, an allergy specialist can help parents care for their child’s allergies at home. A specialist can educate families by explaining how to administer certain treatments and how to help a child adhere to a routine that supports allergy management. In case of an emergency, a specialist will educate parents on how to recognize warning signs and take appropriate actions to alleviate the problem.
How Can a Pediatric Allergist Help Your Child?
Depending on the nature of your child’s symptoms, there are several types of treatments that have proven to be very effective. An allergy specialist can assess your child’s current condition to learn what is causing the problem. The next step is to recommend ways to treat the symptoms and control the triggers. These recommendations can go a long way towards making your child feel better. Here are some of the most common ways allergists help children:
Allergen immunotherapy is a treatment for people with environmental allergies. It works by providing the patient with small, controlled doses of the allergen at intervals over a period of time. In this way, the body learns to alter its immune response and becomes acclimated to the allergen. This treatment is an extremely exciting option because rather than just providing a way to cope with the body’s symptoms, it actually improves the allergic response.
The Problem With Environmental Allergies
A child suffers from environmental allergies when he or she has an adverse response to something in the environment, such as pollen or dust. In the case of seasonal allergies, the problem is more severe during months when the trigger is present in greater quantities. For example, children who are allergic to pollen might have worse symptoms in the spring. The problems created by environmental allergens range in severity from unpleasant to life-threatening. They include:
- Watery eyes
- Itchy skin
- Trouble breathing
How Do Allergy Specialists Administer Allergen Immunotherapy?
Your child can either receive allergy injections, sublingual liquid extracts, or sublingual tablets. The injections are considered the most effective form of this treatment, although the sublingual methods work very well, also. Allergy injections are given once a month for a period of about three years. Sublingual liquid extracts and sublingual tablets are both placed under the tongue once a day. They can be taken at home.
What Does Allergy Immunotherapy Treat?
Allergen immunotherapy can help if your child has an allergic response to any of the following:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Which Children Are Good Candidates for This Treatment?
If your child shows allergy symptoms, he or she might benefit from allergen immunotherapy. Normally, this treatment is provided to children over the age of 6. However, it is also available for younger children depending on the situation. We can make an assessment and determine if it is right for your child.
Food Allergy Desensitization
Food allergies can be inconvenient and frightening for your child. They require constant vigilance on the part of the parents, especially in situations where an adverse reaction could be life-threatening. In a world where your child could encounter a trigger in many social situations, such as at school, ensuring the safety of the environment is difficult. It can also create a sense of social isolation within the child, especially if he or she is not allowed to eat the same foods as other children or sit with peers at lunch.
What Is Food Allergy Desensitization?
Food allergy desensitization is a treatment that can relieve some of the stress mentioned above. It is similar to allergen immunotherapy in that it utilizes controlled, gradual exposure to triggers. Patients receive a small dose of the food that causes a reaction. Over a period of time, they receive subsequent doses in larger and larger quantities. This therapy causes the body to build a tolerance for the trigger, and it is effective against most forms of food allergy.
What Does It Treat?
There are many types of food allergies that can be improved with this treatment. Some examples include:
- Dairy allergies
- Nut allergies
- Shellfish allergies
- Egg allergies
What Makes a Child a Good Candidate for This Treatment?
A child might benefit from this treatment if he or she shows any of the following symptoms in response to a certain food:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the throat
- Swollen lips
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Stomach ache
- Itchy skin
An allergist can perform some tests that will indicate whether or not your child is allergic to the food that seems to be causing the problem. Other food triggers might also be tested at the same time.
Food Allergy Management Options
Parents should keep in mind that for children who have food allergies, other treatments are available in addition to food allergy desensitization. They might prefer to practice avoidance of the triggers or instruct their child to carry an EpiPen. Your pediatric allergist can help you determine what is best for your child.
Sinusitis is a condition that affects some children, causing frequent colds and sinus infections. It can occur on a short-term, long-term, or recurrent basis. While short-term sinus infections clear up in less than 12 weeks, long-term and recurrent infections can make your child feel unwell for a long period of time. Children who suffer from these conditions can have trouble focusing on schoolwork and socializing with others.
What Are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?
Children who show the following symptoms might have a problem with their sinuses:
- Nasal congestion
- Thick post-nasal drainage
- Difficulty smelling things
- Pain in the sinus area
What Can an Allergy Specialist Do to Help?
An allergy specialist can provide sinus management if your child is suffering from sinusitis. This treatment involves addressing the underlying factors that contribute to sinus infections: immunity defects, nasal allergies, and sinus inflammation. Nasal saline washes, nasal medications, and macrolide medications can all be beneficial to children with sinusitis.
Asthma is a challenging and scary condition for children and parents alike. It can cause chronic difficulty breathing and dangerous asthma attacks. It can take energy away from everyday activities and the fun of being a kid. Fortunately, an allergy specialist can understand your child’s condition and recommend ways to take control.
Part of your allergy specialist’s role in helping your child manage his or her asthma is to provide education on symptoms, triggers, and monitoring techniques. Often, patients receive a written plan for their asthma control. This plan can include avoidance of certain triggers, measures to alleviate allergies, and medications.
Too often, children are unnecessarily prescribed steroids which inhibit their growth. A good allergy specialist will focus on treatments that do not have harmful side effects. These often include inhaled steroids that do not have a systemic effect on children. Treatments for asthma also tend to address the underlying causes, such as allergens, sinus infections, viral infections, and sinus inflammation.
What Makes a Child a Good Candidate for Treatment?
Children with asthma tend to show certain identifiable symptoms. If you notice any of the following problems, your child could be a good candidate for asthma management:
- Coughing for prolonged periods of time
- Coughing at night
- Trouble breathing
- A wheezing sound from the lungs
- Tightness in the chest
- Slow recovery from bronchitis or pneumonia
We Can Help
If your child is having difficulty with his or her health and you suspect the cause to be allergies or an allergy-related condition, schedule a consultation with us. Our allergy specialists will be able to look into the situation and isolate the factors, environmental or otherwise, that are making your child feel unwell. We can recommend safe and effective treatments that will allow him or her to get back to enjoying childhood.
Allergies, asthma and sinus issues can be tricky, especially for children. Sometimes, it is difficult to identify the underlying causes or specific triggers. Multiple factors can contribute to the problem. Symptoms may change and express themselves inconsistently. When your child has allergy-related health issues, the best option is to see a pediatric allergist.
Get Your Child the Help They Need
Beyond just treating the symptoms, our allergy specialists will be able to understand what factors in your child’s environment, lifestyle and medical history are contributing to his or her condition. While some older treatments have unwanted side effects, we are always current in the latest, safest options. We can provide you and your child with education and a treatment plan, helping to restore a sense of control and optimism.
Contact us at Asthma Allergy Centre in Tigard, OR for more information on how our pediatric allergists can help your child. Our mission is to help your child get healthy and get back to just being a kid.