Allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to a specific chemical or substance from food, plants or animals. Such chemicals or substances that trigger the immune system to act against itself are called Allergens. Normally, this happens when foreign bodies such as bacteria, virus etc enter the human body. Sometimes, harmless bodies or food items such as pollen, peanuts, milk, penicillin etc. may not be recognized by the immune system and even they can function as a harmful foreign body.
Allergy Occurs When Immune System Fights With Allergens. When we come in contact with the protein part of a substance called potent allergen, our immune system produces anti body Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This IgE triggers the release of histamine, an amino acid, in our body. Histamine, in turn, fights with the potent allergen and this brings about the symptoms of allergy.
Prick Test and Blood Test to Confirm Allergy in Babies. If you suspect that your baby has an allergy inform your doctor about it. The pediatrician would do a prick test on your baby’s skin. In this test, few drops of potent allergens are put on the skin and the skin is slightly pricked from that spot. If the baby has allergy, there are visible reactions on the skin. Your doctor may also advise a blood test to investigate the levels of IgE and histamines to confirm allergy.
Food Allergies in Babies Manifest as Visible Symptoms. Food allergies in infants and young babies usually occur after they are introduced to solid foods. Babies with food allergies have visible symptoms after eating the culprit food, which can occur in the form of hives, swelling of face, legs and arms, itching or redness of the skin. These symptoms typically occur within a few minutes of eating, although there can be a delay of a few hours. Other food allergy symptoms in young babies can include nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, flatulence, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, cough, runny nose, sneezing and light-headedness. In some cases babies can experience a severe allergic reaction, called Anaphylaxis or Anaphylactic Shock (difficulty in breathing, swelling etc). This can be life threatening and calls for immediate medical care.
Foods To Avoid When Your Baby Has Allergy. Some of the common food allergens are: milk, peanuts, eggs, wheat, soy, nuts like walnuts, cashew nuts, fish, shell fish. If your baby has a food allergy, it is best to avoid these foods. You should carefully read the labels of foods purchased for any potent allergens. While eating out you must exercise proper caution while ordering food. Most babies outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy with time. But the allergy for peanuts tree nuts, fish and shellfish remain for life.
Hives, also known as welts, wheals or urticaria—is an itchy, welt-like, reddish, raised, botchy rash, which is white in the center that often resembles mosquito bites. It is a common allergic reaction that may occur as a rash or reaction to a particular food, drug, plant, medicine or insect bite.
Appearance of Hives on the Body. Hives appears in clusters. Urticaria lasts for a few minutes, disappears and then reappears at a different site. It may be accompanied by facial swelling. In case of a contact allergy, the hives appear on the part of the body that came in contact with the allergen; in the case of a food allergy, the hives may appear on the stomach, hands, face, back, or inside of the thighs. In this case it is best to avoid certain foods which cause the allergy.
Treatment of Urticaria Depends Upon Its Severity. Calamine can be applied to treat a mild form of urticaria. This relieves your baby. You can also give your baby a cool bath. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-histamines, depending on the condition of your baby. If your baby is having difficulty in breathing also, it should be treated as a medical emergency.
Hay fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
It is characterized by the inflammation of the mucosal membrane of nose and throat. It occurs when this membrane is exposed to some allergen like pollen grains. Hay fever tends to run in families, though it disappears spontaneously. The symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, red, itchy and/or watery eyes.
Good Riddance to Bad Allergy
The immune response of your baby can vary depending upon the type of allergy it has. Allergies take their own time to clear out, but severe allergy needs proper medical care. Timely attention to allergic symptoms and proper treatment can help your baby recover fast. Careful diet and environmental hygiene can protect your baby from having a recurrence.