Specific treatment for allergies will be determined by your child's doctor based on the following:
The three most effective ways to treat allergies are avoidance, immunotherapy, and medication.
Avoidance is staying away from a substance that causes an allergic reaction.
Suggestions for avoiding (some) allergens:
Your child's doctor will also have suggestions for avoiding the allergens that cause reactions.
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment for allergic children with hay fever and/or asthma. It is also called desensitization, hyposensitization, and allergy shots. A mixture of the various pollens, mold spores, animal danders, and dust mites to which the child is allergic is formulated. This mixture is called an allergy extract. This extract contains no medication, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids.
Immunotherapy is given by injection under the skin, usually into the fatty tissue in the back of the arm. It is not painful like an injection into the muscle, such as a tetanus shot.
Injections may be given weekly or twice a week until a maximum dose is tolerated. This is called the maintenance dose. It may take about one year to reach the maintenance dose. At this point, the frequency of injections may be decreased to every other week and finally to once a month. Your child's doctor will establish the appropriate schedule of injections to meet your child's medical needs.
About 80 to 90 percent of children improve with immunotherapy. It usually takes 12 to 18 months before definite reduction in allergy symptoms is noticed. In some children, a reduction in symptoms is evident in as soon as six to eight months.
Immunotherapy is only part of the treatment plan for allergic children. Since it takes time for immunotherapy to become effective, your child will need to continue the allergy medications, as prescribed by his or her doctor. It is also important to continue eliminating allergens, such as dust mites, from your child's environment.
There are two types of reactions to immunotherapy: local and systemic. The local reaction is redness and swelling at the injection site. If this condition occurs repeatedly, then the extract strength or schedule is changed.
A systemic reaction is one that involves a different site, not the injection site. The symptoms may include nasal congestion, sneezing, hives, swelling, wheezing, and low blood pressure. Such reactions can be serious and even life-threatening. However, deaths related to immunotherapy are rare. If a systemic reaction occurs, your child may continue taking shots, but of a lower dosage.
If you have any questions concerning immunotherapy, always consult your child's doctor or allergist.
For children who suffer from allergies, there are many effective medications. This is a brief overview of the most commonly used types of medications. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against some over-the-counter medicines for infants and young children. Always consult your child's doctor before giving your child any over-the-counter medications.
Antihistamines are used to relieve or prevent the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and other allergies. They prevent the effects of histamine, a substance produced by the body during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines come in tablet, capsule, liquid, or injection form and are available both over the counter and by prescription.
Decongestants are used to treat nasal congestion and other symptoms associated with colds and allergies. Decongestants cause the blood vessels to narrow, thus, leading to the clearing of nasal congestion. Decongestants are available both over the counter and by prescription. The most commonly used forms are liquid and tablet. However, nose sprays or drops may be prescribed by your child's doctor. The American Academy of Family Physicians does not recommend decongestants for children younger than age 4.
The use of medications for asthma or respiratory symptoms from allergies is highly individualized based on the severity of the symptoms. The following are the most commonly used medications:
Consult your child's doctor for more information concerning allergy medications.
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