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What should I do if I think my child might have allergies?

Dr. Paul M. Ehrlich, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

Allergic children, parents and GPs, pediatricians and allergists all are partners in treating allergy. To this list we should add another partner—your child's body—because sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own, and sometimes, if properly trained, it can do a better job of treating your child than the rest of us can. Because the mechanisms of allergy have survived millennia of "progress," we have a good deal to gain by trying to use the body's own resources to reduce its capacity to attack itself, or to remove, as much as possible, its excuses for doing so.

Certain allergy symptoms are not obvious to parents or even to pediatricians or general practitioners. Openly rubbing the nose is a part of childhood. Frequent minor infections are a fact of life for schoolchildren. Because such symptoms are common and seemingly minor, they are often overlooked or treated in the wrong ways—either as infections when they are allergy-related, or as allergy-related when they are not. Sometimes people think that they have suddenly become allergic as adults. This is probably not the case: Allergic symptoms begin at a very early age but they may not be recognized or treated as such.

Observing your child's allergic symptoms—not just overt ones like sneezing, but things like sleeping habits, moods and so forth—will make you a better guide for your child's pediatrician and allergist alike. A parent's concerned, loving observation is the frontline defense of children against allergy.

Talk with your doctor if you think your child might have allergies. Based on what the child’s symptoms are and a physical exam, the doctor should be able to make a diagnosis. If not, he or she may refer you to an allergist for blood or allergy skin tests.

If you think that your child may have allergies, you should schedule an appointment with your child's physician. Discuss the symptoms your child is experiencing, any further evaluation that may be required to confirm the diagnosis, and treatment options.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.