If you believe your child has an allergy, we know that you and your family may feel anxious and uncertain about what may be causing the allergic reactions. You may wonder if you have to drastically change your lifestyle, leave behind favorite family recipes or limit your child’s exposure to allergens. To ease this anxiety, it may be helpful to learn as much as you can about childhood allergies.
Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system. They happen when the immune system fights harmless foreign substances called allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander and food.
- Allergens can enter the body through breathing, through eating and contact with skin.
- Allergies can be tested for through a skin test or blood test. For food allergies a food challenge test may be needed.
- Immunotherapy, antihistamines and topical steroids are a few of the more common treatment options.
- A food allergy is an allergy to a specific food. The immune response to a food allergen is the same as the immune response to any other allergen, however, a child with a food allergy is more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms, such as cramps, nausea and vomiting, than with an inhalant allergy.
- Currently, there is no medication that will cure or prevent food allergies.
- Epinephrine is the best treatment for anaphylaxis due to food or other allergies.
- Boston Children’s is working on ways to "reverse" food allergies through innovative new desensitization treatments.
How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches allergies
Boston Children’s Hospital's Allergy Program physicians collaborate with your child’s primary care physician to provide a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan. To help treat individuals with severe atopic dermatitis , we have a multi-disciplinary Atopic Dermatitis Center with psychologist and a nutritionist. Additionally, our team collaborates with Children’s researchers to conduct clinical trials to evaluate new approaches to allergy treatments.
What makes the Division of Immunology at Boston Children’s unique is the involvement of our researchers. Our scientists see patients, as well as conduct lab research, which helps to raise the level of patient care and brings innovative discoveries directly to our young patients.
How do you treat allergies?
Tell us how you treat allergies and see how others are answering on Boston Children's newest tool: MyViewPoints. We understand that coping with medical conditions, no matter what the type, can feel daunting and overwhelming. We also understand the healing power of a community; that’s why we created My View Points. We encourage you to use this space to share your experience, offer your advice and receive advice from others. Ask questions, offer answers and gain comfort in knowing there are others who have been down the same path as you.
Allergies: Reviewed by Dale Umetsu, MD and Lynda Schneider, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2011