The Sneeze

How do I know if my child has a severe allergy?

October 7, 2021

By: Julie Zinsmeister, CNP

Allergies occur when your immune system responds to something in the environment that it believes is harmful to your body. These symptoms can be mild, occurring every now and then, or be severe and occur every time you are exposed to the trigger you are allergic to. Allergies can be found in the environment, certain foods, medications, insects that bite or sting, chemicals or metals among other things. These triggers do not bother people who do not have allergies.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies can come from many sources such as pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, mold, dust mites and family pets.  When someone has environmental allergies, we typically see itchy watery eyes, runny nose or congestion and people with allergies often feel tired and worn-out.  These symptoms can range from mild, occasional symptoms to severe daily symptoms that have a negative impact on a person’s daily life.  

When you come to see us, we will talk with you about your symptoms, how long you have been treating them, if treatment is helping and how we can better management these symptoms.  We can identify environmental allergy through skin testing right in the office and have results for you the same day. 

Treatment options include SCIT that can significantly decrease the severity of your symptoms and help you get back to living your life without the interruption of your allergy symptoms.


Food Allergies

People often consider food allergies and food intolerances to be the same thing, but they are 2 very different reactions.  A true food allergy is a serious life threating reaction that occurs in less than 5% of adults and less than 6% to 8% of kids.  Food Intolerances are more common, occurring in more than 40% of the general population.

True food allergies will occur very soon after eating something that you are allergic to.  Symptoms can include trouble breathing or swallowing, chest tightness, facial swelling, throat or tongue swelling, trouble swallowing, head to toe hives or flushing, severe N/V and changes in your vital sign.  These can be life threatening and require immediate medical attention and possible treatment with epinephrine.  Common foods that someone may be allergic to include peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, egg, milk or soy.   We can do skin testing in the office to check for true food allergies.

A food intolerance will have a slower onset of symptoms and symptoms can include bloating, n/v, diarrhea/constipation or skin rashes that occur later after eating the suspected foods, sometimes a day or two after eating the suspected foods.  Common foods that someone may have an intolerance to include dairy, gluten or alcohol among other foods.  We can not test for food intolerances.

By talking with your allergy specialist, they can do a complete HPI and discuss how best to test for food allergies and intolerances.  For suspected food allergies, we can do SPT or a food challenge and treatment options include OIT with Dr. Dang our food specialist.

Allergies to insects that sting or bite can pose a threat to anyone that spends time outside.  Medications, chemical and metal allergies can also pose a threat to people who have allergies to any of these triggers, especially individuals who will be in the hospital or need to have medical procedures such as joint replacements, a cardiac procedures or dental work.  We can do Specialty Testing for medications and venom and Patch Testing for chemicals and metals to help you identify any of these allergies.


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