Allergies

An allergy is an excessive sensitivity to normally harmless substances. These substances are called “allergens.” Allergens can come from a number of sources:

  • Food (see Food allergies)
  • Tree and grass pollen
  • Animal fur and secretions
  • Dust
  • Molds and dust mite
  • Insect stings (e.g., wasps or bees)
  • Medications (e.g., penicillin)

Information to which you should pay special attention Call 9-1-1 if your child develops red patches on the skin accompanied by any of the following:

  • Sudden and severe change in her general condition (e.g., irritability, drowsiness, loss of consciousness)
  • Swollen lips or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden vomiting

She could be having a severe allergic reaction.

Any number of the following signs in your child can indicate an allergy, depending on the area affected:

  • Skin: redness, swelling, itchiness
  • Respiratory system: sneezing, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath
  • Digestive system: colic, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Eyes: redness, itching, watering

What to do?

Allergies are not common in young children so they are hard to diagnose. If you suspect that your child has an allergy, you can consult your doctor.

Sudden and severe reactions can occur after your child eats food, takes medication, or is stung by an insect. See the red box for the most common symptoms.