Even babies can have allergies. For some youngsters, allergies may amount to a passing case of hives or an occasional runny nose, but for others it may mean chronic allergic misery that can manifest through:
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Ongoing allergic rhinitis (giving the feeling of a never-ending cold)
- Chronic cough
- Itchy eyes
If your child suffers from these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor. Be mindful, though, that it’s not always easy to find a safe, effective allergy treatment for kids.
Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of different types of allergy care:
Medications. Allergy drugs work well for short bursts of symptoms. For example, if your child gets a runny nose and itchy eyes for a few weeks in fall and spring, allergy medications may be just the right thing to mitigate the symptoms until seasonal pollens subside.
The problem is that allergy medications come with side effects. For example, data does not support the use of over-the-counter decongestants in children, in part because they have been linked to hypertension, irregular heart rhythms, and sleeplessness. Antihistamines and corticosteroids, other common allergy treatment drugs, have also been associated with problematic side effects. Another drawback of medications is that they don’t address the source of the allergy, just its symptoms. When your child stops taking their meds, their symptoms will likely return.
Allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy provides a natural approach to treatment. The concept behind immunotherapy is that you expose people to the very things that trigger their allergies. In time, they become desensitized to these allergens. When desensitization occurs, the body will stop perceiving allergens as “the enemy” and reacting to them with a host of uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Over time, the body will simply ignore the pollen granules or pet dander that once made it miserable.
Allergy immunotherapy provides a natural approach to allergy treatment. The “allergy serum” is made of a simple mixture of allergen extracts suspended in a saline solution. Allergy immunotherapy can be administered in two forms: allergy shots and under-the-tongue allergy drops (known as sublingual immunotherapy). Shots are not usually appropriate for children under ages 7 or 8 due to the risk of anaphylactic reaction. Allergy drops, however, are safer than shots and have been shown to be an appropriate treatment for children under age 5. The other big perk of allergy drops for kids is that, unlike shots, they are safe enough to be administered at home instead of at the doctor’s office. That saves kids and parents time and hassle. And, of course, drops don’t involve any pain. You simply dispense the slightly sweet liquid drops under the tongue once a day.
Allergy drops for food allergies. One additional bonus of allergy drops is that they have been shown to be an effective food allergy treatment. For a long time, there has been no good treatment for food allergies except to avoid trigger foods, so allergy drops are a welcome breakthrough on the food allergy care scene. Physicians can safely prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to children for home administration.
The struggle is real for kids with allergies. They may display shortness of attention or grumpiness simply because they don’t feel well. Food allergies open an additional realm of discomfort with symptoms ranging from allergic rhinitis to gastrointestinal distress to full-blown, life-threatening anaphylaxis.
If your child suffers from allergies, talk to your allergy doctor and help restore their quality of life through age-appropriate allergy treatment.