Growing up in a family with little to few allergies, I never really put much thought on how scary, dangerous, and (sometimes) life-threatening allergic reactions could be. The most experience I had with allergies before was just getting an irritating rash or some mild inflammation at one time or another so it was a very big eye opener for me when I married a man with a history of a lot of allergies and had kids. All of a sudden, the reality of how bad the allergic reactions could be and how unprepared and uneducated I was about the condition hit me and I had to learn through experience and a lot of research what every mom needs to know about allergic reactions.
An allergic reaction happens when the body recognizes a substance or allergen as an “invader” and attempts to protect itself from it. An allergen can be just about anything - food, medicines, dust and pollutants, plants or anything in the environment. Allergic reactions can be very minor and localized or it can be a real medical emergency with many symptoms.
Symptoms may be one or more of these mentioned, among other less common symptoms:
Swelling, itching or skin disturbances at the site or all over the body.
Itchy watery eyes and stuffy runny nose, as well as sneezing may be experienced
Wheezing, cough, tightness or shortness of breath may occur
Swelling of the face around the eyes and lips, sore throat
Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Here are some basic information and tips to remember when your kid gets an allergic reaction:
Be in the know
Being well aware of both you and your partner’s family history when it comes to allergies gives you the upper hand in anticipating what allergens may affect your child. Discuss these allergies with your kid’s pediatrician so she can take this into account as she cares for your kid.
Find out what you as a mom can do to help prevent the tendency for allergies from manifesting in your kid. Breastfeeding is one of the things that can help with this.
Be aware of what is and isn’t the norm in how your kid behaves. If your kid is able, try to have him describe what he is feeling as well. This is good practice for both you and your kid so that you can better assess his symptoms, and he knows how to communicate how he feels if in case you are not with him when an allergic reaction arises. Any unusual changes or possible minor allergic reactions should be discussed with your pediatrician.
In the past, parents were advised to steer clear of possible foods and substances that have a high incidence of allergic reactions. These days though, parents are advised that exposing their children little by little to possible allergens is better than avoiding them altogether in the long run if the allergic reactions are few and minor.
Have a good relationship with your pediatrician and keep her number handy in case of emergencies. Find out what you should have in your medicine cabinet at all times and what first level treatment you can give should any minor allergic reactions arise.
For families with a high likelihood for allergies, keeping a bottle or two of antihistamines at home is a good idea. I, for one, keep antihistamines in liquid form so that I can use it for both my kids and my husband if the need arises.