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Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

Pediatric allergists treat infants, children and adolescents who have severe allergies, asthma and immunologic disorders like hay fever, hives and eczema. They help patients create a plan for managing allergies.

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Allergy Symptoms in Children

Patients usually are referred to these doctors because of:

  • Rashes and itchy skin or eyes
  • Coughing
  • Bronchitis
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic or recurrent infections
  • Food, drug or insect allergies
  • Nasal symptoms and sinusitis
  • Shortness of breath

Your Appointment with the Pediatric Allergist

Your first appointment may last up to four hours. The doctor will take a full look at your child's medical history, complete a physical examination and do preliminary tests. Allergy tests, X-rays and diagnostic pulmonary function testing may take place during your first visit. All of the doctor's findings will be sent to the doctor who referred your child.

Pediatric Allergy Testing

Allergy Testing

Pediatric allergists usually complete two types of allergy skin testing. He will decide what allergies for which he wants to test based on your child's history and reactions. The first is scratch testing on your child's back. The doctor will put small drops of liquid in rows across your child's back. He will then make light scratches beneath the liquid with a needle so that the skin absorbs the liquid. None of these scratches will cause bleeding or pain. Each drop of liquid has a protein in it from a separate allergen, like pollen.

Your child then must remain still so that the skin has time to react. His skin may itch or tickle at this time, but he is not allowed to scratch it. This is the most difficult part of the test. At the end of 15 minutes, your doctor will inspect each scratch for redness or swelling. Your doctor can tell right away if your child is allergic to a substance.

The other kind of allergy testing that may be done is an intradermal test on your child's arm. This test is done when a substance does not cause a reaction in a scratch test but may be an allergen for your child. A small amount of the substance will be injected into your child's skin to see if a reaction takes place.

Allergy Injections

Based on your child's test results, your doctor may recommend allergy injections for treatment. These injections will help your child if he is allergic to dust, pollens and molds by exposing him to a small amount of them so he builds up a tolerance. Many children's medication needs decrease by 90% after a year of injections.

Asthma Diagram

Asthma

Allergists can diagnose your child with asthma and create a plan for him to manage it. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled by avoiding triggers and using medicine. Children with asthma can live active lives.

To diagnose your child's asthma, the doctor will complete a spirometry, which measures the air taken into and out of the lungs, peak flow monitoring to measure lung function, chest X-rays and blood and allergy tests.

Your child may be diagnosed with allergic asthma. This type of asthma means that your child's attacks are triggered by allergens like trees, grass, molds and dust mites. It can also be triggered by exercise, cold air and viral infections. Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma and can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and allergy injections.