You will definitely know someone either in your immediate family or amongst your friends who suffers from allergies! This is because allergies happen to be the most common of medical disorders and in fact, one out of five children in India suffers from some form of allergy.
What is an allergy?
Allergies occur when our immune system reacts abnormally to otherwise harmless substances. Normally, the immune system responds to infection-causing organisms or foreign particles by producing antibodies. But in some people, these reactions are triggered even by harmless everyday substances like pollen, dust, or certain foods like peanuts, resulting in symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, cramps, and diarrhoea. When this occurs, an allergy develops against the offending substance (often termed as the “allergen”).
Did you know? The term allergy was coined from the Greek word ‘Alo,’ meaning ‘change of state,’ and was first used by the Austrian paediatrician Clemens von Pirquet in 1906.
Check out the table below for a list of common allergens and how they enter the body:
Britannicus, the son of the Roman Emperor Claudius, was allegedly allergic to horses. He would develop a rash and his eyes would swell up to such an extent that he could not see where he was going!
Who is prone to allergies?
The chances of your child developing allergies will depend on family history, gender and age. It is true that allergic parents are more likely to have allergic children, but this does not mean that if you are allergic to peanuts your child will also be affected by the same allergen. The child could be allergic to pollen instead.
Also, young children are more at risk and boys are more prone to allergies than girls. Of course, the environment we live in plays a major role as well. Exposure to certain infectious diseases during childhood, increase in environmental pollutants and allergen levels and changes in diet are also known to trigger allergic disorders.
How do I help my child deal with his allergies?
Having to deal with allergies at any age is bad enough, but allergies in children can stop or prevent them from doing things they love. Effective management of an allergic condition depends on the ability to make an accurate diagnosis. If you suspect that your child is prone to allergies, consult a doctor. While the doctor will conduct appropriate tests and uggest how to deal with your child’s allergies, including any medication, there are many things you can do at home to alleviate your child’s discomfort, and help reduce the frequency of attacks, though it may be extremely tough to avoid attacks altogether. As a first step, avoid allergens.