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NORFOLK -- Symptoms of pediatric allergies are often confused with symptoms of common pediatric ear, nose and throat conditions. Often, children diagnosed with frequent cold or sinus infections are suffering from allergies. Allergies can also contribute to other common pediatric problems such as ear infections.

CHKD Allergist and Immunologist Dr. Angela Hogan has more information.

Tip 1: What causes allergies?
Allergies are actually a result of a chain reaction that begins in your genes and is expressed by your immune system. Things we breathe in such as dust, ragweed, pollen and animal dander cause antibody responses, and these specific antibodies cause sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat , and cough and wheeze in some people. Allergies run in families. And in children who are diagnosed with multiple ear, sinus or throat infections, allergies can be contributing to the problem.

Tip 2: What are some of the ways to treat allergies in children?
There are many good treatments that can help control a child's allergy symptoms.The main approach is with 3 things: Environmental control, medications, and immunotherapy.
Environmental control involves addressing pet dander, or mattress covers for dust mites, or simply closing the window if the pollen levels are high.
Medications include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and steroids.
Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to that cause the immune system to remember it and ultimately forget that they were ever bothered by the allergen.
This had previously been done with allergy shots but new treatment methods are becoming available. One new treatment method is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) and is given as drops or a quick melting tablet under the tongue. It is very safe, for both adults and children.

Tip 3: What should parents know?
With environmental control, medication and immunotherapy, children's allergies can be effectively controlled or even eliminated in some cases.
Exciting new therapies are being developed every year, so do not let your kids suffer with allergy symptoms.
See your pediatrician for help finding the right allergy treatment for your child.

For more information, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the CHKD website.

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