Is Your Kid Suffering From Allergies Or Asthma?
Allergies and asthma numbers are still rising-all over the world. The word “allergy” was created by Austrian Paediatrician Clemens von Piquet, He coined the word “allergy” from the Greek allos meaning "other" and ergon meaning "reaction". People who are prone to allergies are often called “atopic”- originating from the greek word “atopos” for strange.
Doctors call the following illnesses “atopic diseases”:
asthma, hayfever, eczema (or “atopic dermatitis”), urticaria (hives), food allergy, hayfever, insect venom allergy and drug allergy.
.In the western world, around 30% of the population suffer from allergies. Childhood allergies have almost doubled in the last decade. And yet, allergies are still underdiagnosed and-undertreated ! Interestigly the more “western lifestyle” a country adopts, the more allergies we can see! A good example are countries like Brazil, India and China, where allergie numbers are rising dramatically.
What exactly is an allergy?
Simply put, an allergy is an exaggerated response of our immune system to common substances, such as food, pets or pollen.
Our immune system is a very complex system. It protects our body against invaders from the outside such as viruses and bacteria.
In allergies, the immune system believes a normally harmless substance is “dangerous”- and starts a clinical reaction which then causes the child harm- such as eczema, asthma or hayfever.
These substances , called “allergens” should not harm our body in the first place!
The clinical symptoms of allergies can range from mild to major, can be acute or chronic. They can even be life-threatening as in anaphylactic shock- the most severe form of an allergy.
Allergies can develop at any age, can stop (“outgrow”) but often come back after years.
How do you know if your child is suffering from an allergy or asthma?
Asthma is not synonymous with allergies! Although a lot of asthmatic children in fact are allergic to one or more indoor or outdoor allergens, there are also children with asthma who aren` t allergic at all.
Your child may have asthma if he or she has any of the following symptoms:
Coughing without signs of infections, coughing at night, shortness of breath, coughing and shortness of breath when running or exercising. A diagnosis of asthma is not easy and is usually based on history (the symptoms your child has) and special tests to examine the lung function.
What about food allergies?
Food allergies are very common and usually start very early in age. Common symptoms are hives, swelling around the mouth/lips or elsewhere on the body when eating or touching the food. The most common food allergens are cows milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, peanuts and tree nuts.
Runny, itchy noses and watery, itchy and red eyes are symptoms of hayfever. These symptoms usually break out during pollen season-which may be early spring til late autumn. However, some so called “indoor-allergens” can cause these symptoms year-round. Typical indoor allergens are house dust mite or mould.
Eczema or “atopic dermatitis” is a very typical childhood disease -but also affects adults ! It is usually (but not always!)associated with allergies, especially food allergens. Symptoms are red and itchy skin. Red or grey patches appear on the hands, feet, wrists and neck-or in the face. The skin is also very dry. Thickened and scaly skin is also very typical. The itching is usually worse at night and can be unbearable. It tends to flare periodically , and up until now there is no real cure. However, there are a lot of self care measurements that can relieve and improve symptoms. It is especially important to seek an individualized treatment in eczema as there is no “one fits all” solution.
We will have more on allergies and allergy treatment soon!