Skip to main content

Allergic Reactions in Children

April 27, 2018

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies can be defined as an over-reaction of the immune system to substances that generally do not affect other individuals.1 Substances can be something you eat, inhale in your lungs, inject in your body or touch. Symptoms can range from annoying and bothersome to deadly and fatal. Anyone from young children to elderly adults can have or develop an allergy. However, children can be at a greater risk for a sudden severe reaction, especially if they have never been tested for allergies. With 5.9 million children under the age of 18 having food allergies, roughly two students in every classroom may be vulnerable to allergies.2

In honor of National Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month, here are some things you should know about allergies:

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary per person and per allergen. Common symptoms include:
  • Eyes: Itchy, watery or swollen eyes
  • Nasal/respiratory: Runny nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Skin: Itching, rash or hives
  • Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
  • Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction, such as loss of airway)
Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction a person can have. This can lead to seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, shock, respiratory distress and death. Symptoms to look out for are:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling of the mouth or throat
  • Tingling of the palms of hands, soles of feet or lips
  • Light-headedness
  • Chest tightness
If your child has any of the symptoms above, it’s important to act immediately, use an epinephrine pen if your child has been prescribed one, and find the nearest emergency room. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency and need immediate assistance, call 9-1-1.

Common Allergens

The most common allergens that people face include:
  • Indoor and outdoor allergies
    • Common triggers: grass and weeds, pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cockroaches and animal dander
  • Skin allergies
    • Common triggers: plants, like poison ivy, cockroaches, dust mites, certain foods and latex
    • Did you know: In 2015, 8.8 million children in the U.S. had skin allergies
    • Children age 0-4 are most likely to have skin allergies
  • Food allergies
    • Common triggers: milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish
    • Did you know: In 2014, 4.2 million children in the U.S. have food allergies, however they are frequently outgrown as they get older
  • Drug allergies
    • Most common trigger: penicillin
  • Latex allergy
    • Did you know: 1-6% of people in the U.S. have a latex allergy
  • Insect allergies
    • Common triggers: bee/hornet/wasp stings and mosquito/fire ant bites
    • Cockroaches and dust mites may cause nasal or skin allergy symptoms

When is an allergic reaction an emergency?

When dealing with allergies, it’s impossible to know how quickly the body will react. Severe reactions such as trouble breathing, swelling of the throat or tongue, chest tightness and tingling of the hands, feet or lips require immediate attention.  When you’re having an emergency, you can depend on St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital. 

Our innovative model and quick door-to-doctor time allow us to treat patients fast and efficiently. With multiple locations in and around Indianapolis, you can expect to see a doctor soon after you walk through our doors.
Find a  St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital location nearest you.

If you are worried that your child may have an unknown allergen, it’s imperative to see an asthma and allergy specialist who can diagnose and treat the condition and help to prevent reactions. Find a specialist near you.