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, says CHKD Allergist and Immunologist Dr. Kelly Maples.

Tip 1: What causes allergies?
Inhalants such as dust, ragweed, pollen and animal dander can contribute to irritating the sensitive membranes covering the nose and throat. If allergies run in a family then the potential for children to be sensitive to allergens is much higher. Often when children are diagnosed with multiple ear, sinus or throat infections, inhalant allergies are at the root of the problem.

Tip 2: What are some of the ways to treat allergies in children?
Allergies are common in children, and fortunately, there are many good treatments that can help you control your child's allergy symptoms.
Choices can be a little more limited for younger infants and children. These are some oral antihistamines that are available as a syrup and are approved for children over age 6 months.
A new treatment available is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, which increases 'immunity' or tolerance to the allergen and reduces the allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots, sublingual immunotherapy is given as drops under the tongue.
The process works by confirming a patient's allergies through allergy testing. Then, a custom-mixed vial of drops is prepared for the patient. The patient takes drops under the tongue daily. During the first four months, called the 'escalation phase,' the dosage is gradually increased. After that, in the 'maintenance phase,' the patient takes the same dose of drops each day.
It is very safe, for both adults and children. Patients take the drops in the convenience of their own homes instead of going to the doctor's office every week for shots.

Tip 3: What should parents know?
Sublingual immunotherapy will not work for everyone, usually because they find it hard to remember to take it every day.
Some people prefer the injections or other oral treatments.
That's a lot of different allergy medications and different combinations that can be used, so don't let your kids suffer with allergy symptoms. All treatments are not covered by your insurance provider.
See your pediatrician for help finding the right allergy treatment for your child.

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