By contactus@yourkiddoc.com
May 01, 2017
Category: Seasonal Allergies
Tags: Seasonal Allergies  

About Seasonal Allergies

"Achoo!" It's your son's third sneezing fit of the morning, and as you hand him another tissue you wonder if these cold-like symptoms — the sneezing, congestion, and runny nose — have something to do with the recent weather change. If he gets similar symptoms at the same time every year, you're likely right: seasonal allergies are at work.

Seasonal allergies, sometimes called "hay fever" or seasonal allergic rhinitis, are allergy symptoms that happen during certain times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants.

The immune systems of people who are allergic to mold spores or pollen treat these particles (called allergens) as invaders and release chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against them. It's the release of these chemicals that causes allergy symptoms.

Seasonal Allergies sidebar

People can be allergic to one or more types of pollen or mold. The type someone is allergic to determines when symptoms happen. For example, in the mid-Atlantic states, tree pollination is February through May, grass pollen runs from May through June, and weed pollen is from August through October — so kids with these allergies are likely to have increased symptoms at those times. Mold spores tend to peak midsummer through the fall, depending on location.

Even kids who have never had seasonal allergies in years past can develop them. Seasonal allergies can start at almost any age, though they usually develop by the time someone is 10 years old and reach their peak in the early twenties, with symptoms often disappearing later in adulthood.

Signs and Symptoms

If your child develops a "cold" at the same time every year, seasonal allergies might be to blame. Allergy symptoms, which usually come on suddenly and last as long as a person is exposed to the allergen, can include:

  • sneezing
  • itchy nose and/or throat
  • nasal congestion
  • clear, runny nose
  • coughing

These symptoms often come with itchy, watery, and/or red eyes, which is called allergic conjunctivitis. Kids who have wheezing and shortness of breath in addition to these symptoms might have allergies that trigger asthma.

Diagnosis

Seasonal allergies are fairly easy to identify because the pattern of symptoms returns from year to year following exposure to an allergen.

Talk with your doctor if you think your child might have allergies. The doctor will ask about symptoms and when they appear and, based on the answers and a physical exam, should be able to make a diagnosis. If not, the doctor may refer you to an allergist for blood tests or allergy skin tests.

To find an allergy's cause, allergists usually do skin tests in one of two ways:

  1. A drop of a purified liquid form of the allergen is dropped onto the skin and the area is pricked with a small pricking device. If a child reacts to the allergen, the skin will swell a little in that area.
  2. A small amount of allergen is injected just under the skin. This test stings a little but isn't extremely painful. After about 15 minutes, if a lump surrounded by a reddish area appears (like a mosquito bite) at the injection site, the test is positive.

Even if a skin test or a blood test shows an allergy, a child must also have symptoms to be definitively diagnosed with an allergy. For example, a child who has a positive test for grass pollen and sneezes a lot while playing in the grass would be considered allergic to grass pollen.

Treatment

There are many ways to treat seasonal allergies, depending on how severe the symptoms are. The most important part of treatment is knowing what allergens are at work. Some kids can get relief by reducing or eliminating exposure to allergens that bother them.

If certain seasons cause symptoms, keep the windows closed, use air conditioning if possible, and stay indoors when pollen/mold/weed counts are high. It's also a good idea for kids with seasonal allergies to wash their hands or shower and change clothing after playing outside. 

If reducing exposure isn't possible or is ineffective, medicines can help ease allergy symptoms. These may include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal spray steroids. If symptoms can't be managed with medicines, the doctor may recommend taking your child to an allergist or immunologist for evaluation for allergy shots(immunotherapy), which can help desensitize kids to specific allergens.

 

By contactus@yourkiddoc.com
May 01, 2017
Category: Fevers
Tags: Fevers  

When Fever Is a Sign of Something Serious

In the past, doctors advised treating a fever on the basis of temperature alone. But now they recommend considering both the temperature and a child's overall condition.

Kids whose temperatures are lower than 102°F (38.9°C) often don't need medicine unless they're uncomfortable. There's one important exception to this rule: If you have an infant 3 months or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, call your doctor or go to the emergency department immediately. Even a slight fever can be a sign of a potentially serious infection in very young infants.

If your child is between 3 months and 3 years old and has a fever of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher, call your doctor to see if he or she needs to see your child. For older kids, take behavior and activity level into account. Watching how your child behaves will give you a pretty good idea of whether a minor illness is the cause or if your child should be seen by a doctor.

The illness is probably not serious if your child:

  • is still interested in playing
  • is eating and drinking well
  • is alert and smiling at you
  • has a normal skin color
  • looks well when his or her temperature comes down

And don't worry too much about a child with a fever who doesn't want to eat. This is very common with infections that cause fever. For kids who still drink and urinate (pee) normally, not eating as much as usual is OK.

Here are ways to ease symptoms that often accompany a fever:

  • If your child is fussy or uncomfortable, you can give acetaminophen or ibuprofen based on the package recommendations for age or weight. (Unless instructed by a doctor, never give aspirin to a child due to its association with Reye syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.) If you don't know the recommended dose or your child is younger than 2 years old, call the doctor to find out how much to give.

    Infants younger than 2 months old should not be given any medicine for fever without being checked by a doctor. If your child has any medical problems, check with the doctor to see which medicine is best to use. Remember that fever medication will usually temporarily bring a temperature down, but won't return it to normal — and it won't treat the underlying reason for the fever. 

    When to Call the Doctor

    The exact temperature that should trigger a call to the doctor depends on the age of the child, the illness, and whether there are other symptoms with the fever.

    Call your doctor if you have an:

  • infant younger than 3 months old with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • older child with a temperature of higher than 102.2°F (39°C)
  • Call the doctor if an older child has a fever of less than 102.2°F (39°C) but also:

  • refuses fluids or seems too ill to drink adequately
  • has lasting diarrhea or repeated vomiting
  • has any signs of dehydration (peeing less than usual, not having tears when crying, less alert and less active than usual)
  • has a specific complaint (like a sore throat or earache)
  • still has a fever after 24 hours (in kids younger than 2 years) or 72 hours (in kids 2 years or older)
  • is getting fevers a lot, even if they only last a few hours each night
  • has a chronic medical problem such as heart disease, cancer, lupus, or sickle cell disease
  • has a rash
  • has pain while urinating (peeing)
  • Seek emergency care if your child shows any of these signs:

  • crying that won't stop
  • extreme irritability or fussiness
  • sluggishness and trouble waking up
  • rash or purple spots that look like bruises on the skin (that were not there before the child got sick)
  • blue lips, tongue, or nails
  • infant's soft spot on the head seems to be bulging outward or sunken inwards
  • stiff neck
  • severe headache
  • limpness or refusal to move
  • difficulty breathing that doesn't get better when the nose is cleared
  • leaning forward and drooling
  • seizure
  • abdominal (belly) pain

    Fever: A Common Part of Childhood

    All kids get fevers, and in most cases they're completely back to normal within a few days. For older babies and kids (but not necessarily for infants younger than 3 months), the way they act is more important than the reading on your thermometer. Everyone gets cranky when they have a fever. This is normal and should be expected.

    But if you're ever in doubt about what to do or what a fever might mean, or if your child is acting ill in a way that concerns you even if there's no fever, always call your doctor for advice.





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