If your child needs allergy treatment, don’t lose hope if they are too young for allergy shots. (Most doctors don’t recommend shots until a child hits age 7.) Babies, toddlers, and young children can all be afflicted by allergies. (Allergies know no age limits.)
If your child has ongoing allergies, they may be exhibiting the following symptoms:
So what to do? If your child’s allergies flare for a limited time during allergy season, talk to your physician. They may be able to prescribe an antihistamine or other medication to get your child through the worst of the allergy season. If your child’s allergies last longer, though—more than a few months of the year—consider physician-prescribed allergy treatment known as immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is available through allergy shots or through under-the-tongue allergy drops. The nice thing about immunotherapy is that it strikes at the heart of the allergy itself rather than just treating surface symptoms.
When allergies occur, it is because your body thinks something non-harmful (like a pollen granule) is a germ and marshals all of its energy and resources to fight that pollen off! (The joke’s on the body, of course. Pollens are incapable of doing harm to the body.) The one way that has been shown to stop the body from overreacting to pollens and other allergens is desensitization through immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps your body develop an immunity to the very allergens that once made it miserable.
Shots or drops?
Both shots and drops provide different forms of immunotherapy. If your child is less than 7, shots probably wont’ be an option. If they’re age-eligible for shots, make sure that your child can tolerate needles, and make sure that you have adequate time to drive them to the doctor’s office a couple times a week for injections (usually over the course of multiple years).
If your child is too young for shots and if you don’t want the pain and hassle of needles, consider another form of immunotherapy (sublingual immunotherapy) in which the same type of liquid that is injected into the skin for allergy shots is actually dispensed under the tongue where it can absorb into the blood flow through specialized cells in the mouth. There’s no pain associated with drops, and because they have a higher safety profile than shots, they can be dosed in the comfort of home. Most insurance plans cover shots. Some cover drops. Of course, shots come with some “hidden costs” including copays for shots as well as drive time and gas costs for going to the doctor’s office for injections, etc.
Whichever method you settle on, note that allergy treatment can be life-changing for children—especially those who have spent much of their life under a “cloud” of allergic discomfort.