The goal of allergy treatment in children is reduce symptoms caused by inflammation of affected tissues. Of course, the best "treatment" is to prevent children from being exposed to allergens in the first place.
Although it may be impossible to completely avoid anything that causes allergies, often steps can be taken to reduce exposure. This is especially important in the case of drug and food allergies. We explain how is the treatment of allergic children.
Almost all allergies are easily treated with medication. However, the medications help alleviate symptoms from that exposure and do not prevent future allergic reactions.
1. Short-acting antihistamines: Usually over the counter (without a prescription), they often relieve mild or moderate symptoms, but some can cause drowsiness. In addition, these antihistamines can dull the ability to learn in children (even without drowsiness).
An example is diphenhydramine. Loratadine (Claritin), a drug that used to require a prescription and is now available without a prescription, does NOT cause drowsiness or affect learning ability in children.
2. Long-acting antihistamines:they cause less drowsiness, can be just as effective, and generally don't interfere with learning. These medications, which require a prescription, are: fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
3. Nasal corticosteroid sprays: they are very effective and safe for people with symptoms that are not relieved by antihistamines alone. These prescription medications are: fluticasone (Flonase), mometasone (Nasonex), and triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ).
4. Decongestants:they can be used to reduce symptoms such as nasal congestion. Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for many days, as they cause the "bounce" effect and make congestion worse. Decongestants in pill form do not cause this effect.
5. Sodium cromoglycate: It is available as a nasal spray (Nasalcrom) to treat hay fever. Cromolyn sodium eye drops and antihistamines are available for eyes.
6. Leukotriene inhibitors - montelukast:(Singulair) is a prescription medicine approved to help control asthma and relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies. The most appropriate medication depends on the type and severity of the symptoms. Specific illnesses caused by allergies (such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema) may require other treatments.
Sometimes allergy shots (immunotherapy), also known as vaccinations, are recommended in case the allergen cannot be avoided and the symptoms are difficult to control. This procedure includes regular injections of the allergen, which are given in increasing doses (each dose is slightly higher than the last) and help prevent the body from reacting to the allergen.
Immunotherapy does not work the same for all patients and may require frequent visits to the doctor. Allergy shots can cause undesirable side effects (such as hives and rash) and can have dangerous results (such as anaphylaxis).
These injections are most effective for allergens that cause hay fever symptoms and for people with severe allergies to mosquito bites, but not for food allergies. Although they may require years of treatment, it is effective in approximately two-thirds of cases.
Some children may outgrow an allergy over time as their immune systems become less sensitive to the allergen, and this is particularly true with food allergies. However, as a general rule, once a substance has caused an allergic reaction, it continues to affect the person.
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