Our affiliated pediatric allergists have specialty training in understanding the immune system response in children. In the case of allergies and asthma, your child’s body may be reacting to substances that are harmless for other kids. Pediatric allergists can pinpoint what your child’s immune system is reacting to and then identify appropriate treatment.
Pediatric allergists have completed medical school and three years of pediatric training. Then they complete an extra two to three years studying allergy and immunology and pass a comprehensive exam to ensure your child receives exceptional care.
Allergies your child may experience
Children may react to environmental substances including:
- Dander from household pets or livestock
- Insect bites and stings
- Foods (like tree nuts or peanuts)
Their reactions can range from mild to severe and may include:
- Red, itchy or watery eyes
- Sneezing or coughing
- Itchy, irritating rash or hives
- Asthma (airway sensitivity that makes breathing difficult)
- Frequent or unusual infections
- Anaphylaxis (a severe reaction that affects the whole body, including swelling of the throat)
Diagnosing allergies and asthma
To diagnose allergies, our pediatric allergists use special tests – called skin pricks or patch tests – that are virtually painless. We place tiny drops of various allergens on the skin. A mild reaction, usually swelling, pinpoints the substances to which your child is sensitive.
To identify the severity of asthma, pediatric allergists use tests to determine lung function. They will ask your child to blow into a device that measures how well their lungs are working. In some cases, a chest X-ray may be used to see inside the lungs, or blood tests may be needed to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Treatments for allergies and asthma
Once we’ve identified the substances to which your child is allergic, as well as how their body responds to the allergens, we can offer appropriate treatment. We always start with the most conservative treatment that could provide relief. Treatment options for allergies and asthma include:
- Lifestyle changes to avoid the allergy triggers
- Medicines such as antihistamines, oral steroids (inhalers) or nasal steroids that can lessen the reaction your child experiences
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy), which involve desensitizing your child to the substance that causes a reaction, usually by delivering a tiny amount of the substance through an injection
- An epinephrine-containing pen (EpiPen®) that your child can self-inject in an emergency if they experience anaphylaxis
When needed, pediatric allergists collaborate with pediatric pulmonologists to care for complex asthma conditions.