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Childhood Allergy - An Introduction

Childhood allergy is now a significant problem for children and parents across the country. What in the past may have seemed a minor irritation is now accepted as having the potential to be a debilitating condition. 50% of children in the UK have allergies, and for those affected this can mean a daily battle of trying to keep symptoms under control.

Allergy is when the body has a reaction to a protein (e.g. foods, insect stings, pollens) or other substance (e.g. antibiotic). These substances are called allergens, and for most people they are harmless. Common things that children are allergic to include: food (e.g. peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat and fish), pollens from tree and grasses, house dust mite and insect stings.

Allergic symptoms can affect the nose, throat, ears, eyes, airways, digestion and skin in mild, moderate or severe form. These symptoms can go largely unnoticed until a child has been suffering with the problem for some time.

The consequences of suffering with one, or several, of these symptoms every day can cause a child to struggle with their schooling and other general abilities. Concentration levels can be reduced from lack of sleep, or simply from having the symptoms.

When a child first shows signs of allergy it is not always clear what has caused the problem, or even if they have had an allergic reaction, since some allergic symptoms can be similar to other common childhood conditions. However, if the allergic reaction is severe, or if the symptoms continue to re-occur, it is important that their symptoms are investigated. The most important fact to remember is that if a child does develop an allergy, with early diagnosis and treatment of this condition, it will be easier to manage the symptoms and help minimise their effects on the child's daily life.

 

Last updated: March 2012                      Next review date: December 2015
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