Any illness that causes a child to be sick can break a parent’s heart, especially when very young children are affected because they don’t yet have the communication skills to describe what they are feeling and where. However, even when they can verbalize, it can be difficult to determine what set off their symptoms.
With allergies, it’s all about retracing steps to identify what specific substance triggered the allergic reaction. Accurately identifying what a child is allergic to can be tricky, which is why you’ll want to go to an expert, so you’re not caught unaware in the future.
Gang of 8
About 90% of children’s allergies are caused by eight usual suspects:
- Tree-borne nuts (like almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
- Fish (like cod or flounder)
- Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp)
Allergic reactions include hives, itching, nasal congestion, scratchy throat, and watery or itchy eyes. Severe allergic reactions include life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which can restrict the airway and leave a person unable to breathe.
If your child exhibits symptoms consistent with an allergic reaction, get them tested right away to help prevent future recurrences and serious consequences like anaphylactic shock.
Common allergy testing to determine what your child may be allergic to includes: skin tests, allergy food tests, and blood tests.
Skin tests may be performed via scratch, intradermally, and via a patch:
- The scratch test consists of placing an allergen into a liquid medium that is placed on the skin. The skin is punctured in a manner such that the liquid penetrates the skin. The results are examined for signs of an allergic reaction to determine if the administered allergen is the culprit.
- If the scratch test is inconclusive, an intradermal test is done by injecting a small amount of the allergen into the skin.
- The patch test involves an allergen loaded into an adhesive patch that remains on the skin for about a week. After the first few days, the doctor will measure your child’s reaction, if any.
Allergy food tests entail the removal of certain foods from one’s diet and then adding them back in. This allows a doctor to determine what your allergen is.
Blood tests are done in case of severe allergic reactions. A sample of your blood is drawn and tested in a laboratory setting against suspected allergens. If your blood sample develops antibodies after exposure to an allergen, it means you are allergic to it.
It is important that allergy testing is done in a controlled environment to minimize the chances of a serious allergic reaction. It’s not unusual for an allergy test to result in mild itching, swelling, and redness of the skin. Most symptoms clear up within a few hours but can last a couple of days.
Allergy Specialists in Illinois
The experts at Oak Brook Allergists treat pediatric and adult patients with all types of allergies. If you suffer from allergies, call us at (630) 574-0460 to make an appointment today. You can also request an appointment online.