Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, although they are generally more common in children, according to the University of Maryland Medicine. Like many medications, allergy treatments intended for adults may be harmful to children. Talk to your doctor about the best type of pediatric medicine to use when treating your child’s allergy symptoms.
Your child’s immune system is responsible for his allergy attacks. When his immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance as a threat, it attempts to defend his body by generating large amounts of antibodies to destroy the supposed enemy. This leads to the production and release of histamines, cytokines and leukotrienes, which cause allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching and watery eyes, hives and rashes.
Antihistamines can help lessen the severity of your child’s symptoms by blocking the histamine released during an allergy attack. Antihistamine nasal sprays can help relieve postnasal drip, runny nose and sinus congestion. Eye drops that contain antihistamine may help reduce the itching, swelling and redness in your child’s eyes. While these over-the-counter medications often come in products intended for children, it is important to contact your doctor before giving any medication to young children and children with health problems. MayoClinic.com warns against giving oral antihistamines to children.
According to the Saint Louis Children’s Hospital, allergy shots are one type of treatment for children who suffer from hay fever or asthma. Also known as immunotherapy, desensitization and hyposensitization, allergy shots contain small amounts of the substances that cause your child’s allergic reaction. Treatment for children often includes weekly or monthly injections for 12 to 18 months, although some children experience a reduction in symptoms within eight months of treatment.
Some children require rescue medications to treat acute attacks of asthma caused by allergies. Bronchodilators are medications that can open and expand your child’s narrowed lung passages during an attack, helping to relieve his wheezing and coughing. Bronchodilators come in different forms, including liquids, pills, inhalants and injections.
Some allergy medicines may cause side effects in your child. According to MayoClinic.com, antihistamine nasal sprays may cause nausea, sore throat, nasal burning, headache, dizziness and fatigue, while antihistamine eye drops may cause mild stinging, red eyes, headache and watering eyes. Immunotherapy may lead to a local reaction at the injections site, causing redness and swelling where the needle entered the skin. A systemic reaction may also occur, causing hives, nasal congestion, wheezing and low blood pressure. Contact your pediatrician or an emergency health care provider immediately if your child seems to be having a reaction to a medication.