About 9.4 million American children have skin allergies. Another 7.1 million are allergic to pollen. And 3.4 million have food allergies. Different kids are allergic to different things.
Print this checklist of allergy triggers. Then observe your child to see what triggers allergy symptoms. Once you think you've determined the source, ask the doctor about it. The doctor may suggest a skin test. Then you can work with the doctor to limit your child’s exposure and develop a treatment plan.
___Dust mites. No matter how clean you keep your house, these tiny mites can find dust to feed on. The waste products they leave in your furniture, pillows, and curtains are one of the most common allergy triggers.
___Pet dander. Dog and cat hair do not trigger allergies. It’s the dander, tiny bits of skin and saliva, that pets shed along with their fur that spur allergic reactions.
___Mold. Mold grows in damp conditions. When things dry out, mold spores travel on wind or air currents. Summer is the most active time for mold allergies, but this trigger never really sleeps. Mold allergies can flare up in any season.
___Pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Each year, plants release pollen in a predictable order: trees in the early spring, grass in late spring, and ragweed in the fall. An allergy to one plant’s pollen does not mean your child is allergic to all kinds.
___Cockroaches. When these pests move in, they leave tiny bits of themselves around your home. The reaction might be itchy skin, red, itchy eyes, or an itchy throat that persists throughout the year. Place a roach trap in the corners of your kitchen, behind the fridge, or other places where food-crumbles collect to find out if you have roaches.
Serious Food Allergy Triggers
___Milk. Milk is the most common food allergy in children. It can cause hives, wheezing, and vomiting. Besides dairy, milk proteins are in surprising foods, including some canned tuna fish, sports drinks, and even chewing gum. Check food labels for casein or whey, two milk proteins.
___Eggs. Eggs are the second most common food allergy in children. Eggs can cause hives, nasal inflammation, cramps, nausea, and shortness of breath. Beware: egg is an ingredient in most cakes, cookies, and muffins. Egg protein can also show up in canned soup, ice cream, and commercial meatballs.
___Soy. Soy shows up in infant formulas, canned soup, canned tuna, hot dogs and deli meat, and low-fat peanut butter, to name just a few. Reactions to soy may be severe.
Potentially Deadly Allergy Triggers
If you suspect any of these allergy triggers, see a doctor and get an EpiPen to keep on hand. These triggers can cause anaphylaxis, swelling, and constriction of a person's airways. It's a medical emergency.
___Peanuts. Despite the name, peanuts are a kind of legume that grows on vines. Peanuts are one of the most common causes of anaphylaxis.
___Tree Nuts. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, and other tree nuts are just about everywhere -- in cookies, ice cream toppings, baked goods, Asian foods, and baking mixes.
___Shellfish. This serious allergy often doesn't take hold until adulthood, although some kids over age 6 are allergic to shrimp, lobster, and crab.
___Bee stings. If your child is severely allergic, the sting of a bee, wasp, yellow jacket, fire ant, or stinging insect can cause her air passages to swell and interfere with breathing.
___Latex. There are two types of latex and only one of them triggers allergies: the kind that comes from rubber trees. Synthetic latex doesn’t have this effect on people.
___Medication. Among drugs, penicillin is the most common allergy trigger. Other antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and insulin can also cause a significant allergic reaction.