Lets talk allergies

An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to something in the environment that is normally considered harmless.

An allergic reaction usually happens within 20 minutes to 2 hours after an exposure to an allergen (also known as a trigger) however delayed reactions are also possible.

Allergies can vary in severity from mild (think hay fever) to severe (anaphylaxis).

It’s also important to know that allergies don’t always happen following the first exposure to an allergen. In fact allergies most commonly appear on subsequent exposures. This could be the 2nd, 200th or 2000th exposure to an allergen, you can develop an allergy at any point in your life. Thanks immune system!

So how does an allergy actually occur?

An allergy occurs when an allergen enters the body via the mouth, nose, skin, stomach, bowel or lungs. The immune system (who is known for being a bit of a diva) makes the assumption that a harmless allergen is a massive threat to her. She then forms an evil plan to destroy the trigger however by doing this causes widespread inflammation in the body leading to signs and symptoms of an allergy. Good one immune system *eye roll*

What are the most common allergens in Australia?

The most common allergens in Australian include insect bites, latex, medications like penicillin, and foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, cows milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and sesame.

How do I know if my child is having an allergic reaction?

If your little one is having an allergic reaction you may see one of more of the following signs after an exposure to an allergen:

  • Hives (a red and often lumpy rash that sometimes looks like mosquito bites)
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips or fingers
  • Hay Fever

What should I do if I think my child is having an allergic reaction?

First things first take a deep breath, you’ve got this!

1). If possible remove the allergen and / or remove your child from the allergen. This could include cleaning foods from little hands or removing a bee sting.

2). Monitor closely for worsening of symptoms and signs of anaphylaxis.

If you are unsure if your child is having an allergic reaction or an anaphylactic reaction, always treat it as anaphylaxis until proven otherwise and call 000 for an ambulance urgently.

2). Record the symptoms of the allergy by taking a picture or video, your GP is going to want to see these.

3). An age appropriate non drowsy antihistamine can be given to reduce symptoms and discomfort, go and have a chat with your friendly pharmacist.

4). Make an appointment with your GP, they will be able to help make a plan moving forward and may refer your little one to an allergy specialist who can do further testing.

5). Do not expose your child to the allergen again until you have made a plan with your doctor. Sometimes allergy symptoms become worse with each exposure to the allergen.

So how do I know if my child is having an anaphylactic reaction?

We could write an entire blog post on this subject (in fact we most likely will).

Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergy, it affects 1% of children in Australia, is a medical emergency that can be life threatening and requires urgent treatment.

If your little one has any of the following symptoms OR you are unsure if your child is having an allergic reaction or anaphylactic reaction, always treat as anaphylaxis until proven otherwise, call 000 for an ambulance immediately.

  • Swelling or tightness of the throat, tongue or airway
  • Hoarse voice, difficulty talking or a change in the sound of your child’s voice
  • Any difficult or noisy breathing
  • A persistent cough
  • Pale, drowsy, floppy or unresponsive
  • Fainting or collapse

Stomach pain and vomiting alone are signs of anaphylaxis following an insect bite.

If your little one is starting solids soon and you want to learn more about allergies, anaphylaxis, choking and heaps more, book in a course with us today. We promise it will be a blast!




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