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When to See a Pediatrician About Your Child's Allergies

Sometimes kids' allergy symptoms are mild and short-term enough to handle at home. But when they become serious or frequent, it’s time to see a pediatrician.

 See the doctor if you child has:

  • Hay fever  symptoms -- runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and itchy nose and eyes -- that last for more than a week or two or happen around the same time year after year
  • Asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath,  chest tightness, wheezing, or coughing, especially if it's worse after exercise or at night
  • Eczema symptoms, including a very itchy red rash that usually starts in babies, frequent scratching, and thickened scaly patches on the skin
  • Allergy symptoms after eating a specific food. These  could be  skin rashes and swelling, wheezing, upset stomach, paleness, and lightheadedness
  • Allergies that keep your child from enjoying playtime or getting a good night’s sleep

In many cases, your child’s pediatrician can diagnose and treat allergies. The doctor may offer:

  • Medicines to treat the symptoms
  • Advice on how to avoid your child’s allergy triggers. You may need to make changes in your home to cut down on allergy triggers or change your child’s diet.

Your pediatrician may also suggest that you take your child to an allergy specialist. An allergist may do a skin test to find out specifically what your child is allergic to. The doctor places a tiny amount of the allergen on your child's skin -- usually on her back or forearm -- and then pricks the skin underneath.  It's safe and fairly painless.

If nothing happens, your child isn't allergic to that trigger. If she is, she’ll get a small, raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite.

If your child has food allergy symptoms, the doctor may suggest not eating certain foods for several days to see if the symptoms go away.

The allergist may suggest shots or oral tablets to gradually make your child less sensitive to allergy triggers.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on October 29, 2012

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