Your Child’s Allergies: When to See a Pediatrician

Sometimes, kids' allergy symptoms are mild enough to handle at home. But when they become serious or happen a lot, it’s time to see a pediatrician.

Make an appointment with the doctor if your child has:

Hay fever symptoms that last for more than a week or two or happen around the same time each year. The common red flags are a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and an itchy nose and eyes.

Asthma symptoms, including those that get worse after exercise or at night. The warning signs include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, or coughing.

Eczema symptoms, including a very itchy red rash that usually starts in babies, scratching a lot, and thick, scaly patches on the skin.

Allergy symptoms after your child eats a specific food. These could be skin rashes and swelling, wheezing, an upset stomach, paleness, and lightheadedness.

Allergies that keep your child from enjoying playtime or getting a good night’s sleep.

Call 911 if your child’s symptoms are sudden or severe, or include trouble breathing, swelling, passing out, dizziness, or chest pain.

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 or to your child’s diet.

Your pediatrician may also refer you to an allergy specialist. An allergist may do a skin test to find out what your child is allergic to. The doctor places a tiny amount of the allergen, such as pollen, dust mites, or specific foods, on your child's skin -- usually on her back or forearm. Then he pricks the skin underneath. It's safe and fairly painless.

If nothing happens, your child isn't allergic to that trigger. If she gets a small raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite, she may be.

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

He may also suggest shots or tablets that go under the tongue to gradually make your child less sensitive to allergy triggers. For children who have a severe reaction to certain foods, the doctor will prescribe emergency medication. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on June 25, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Allergy tips," "Eczema," "Food allergies in children."

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "When should I see an allergist?" "Allergy testing in children and infants."

News release, FDA.

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