Allergy season is literally in full bloom with flowers, trees and grasses all contributing to the sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses and coughs which are seen in allergic children. If your child continues to suffer from allergies despite medical therapy with daily antihistamines and nasal steroids your pediatrician may recommend a visit to a pediatric allergist. A pediatric allergist can help determine what is triggering a child's allergies. After taking a good history of suspected allergic triggers, the allergist may recommend a prick skin test to help confirm a child's allergies. The prick test can be used at almost any age and is really quite easy and is not painful and does not even draw blood. During skin testing a small amount of the allergen (tree, grass, dust, dog or cat dander) is placed on different areas of the back and then after waiting about 15 minutes the doctor can look for a local reaction which confirms sensitivity to the allergen. By watching the local skin reaction to the allergen and measuring the reaction the allergist can identify a child's specific allergic triggers. For the very allergic child this may be the best way to plan an approach to further allergy control. Based upon skin testing the decision may also be made as to whether a child might benefit from allergy shots. Again, this is best discussed with both your pediatrician and your allergist. Unfortunately, allergy shots do not work immediately and may require several years to see results. But knowing what your child is allergic to may help to plan avoidance of the triggers as well as help with managing a child's allergy medications. I'm Dr. Sue with The Kid's Doctor helping parents take charge.
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