Not knowing what’s bothering your baby is the most confusing and worrisome thought on the planet for a parent. One little sneeze and you start counting the number of things that can go wrong. I have had the same experience with my baby, and I have had allergies in the beginning so I was dreading that my baby might have them as well. So, I had to be very cautious while feeding my baby and myself, but due to insufficient knowledge, the day came that I have been dreading. My lack of knowledge and experience made me witness the worse day of my life when my baby caught a severe food allergy and started turning red. The entire purpose of this post today is to educate you on allergies that your baby could be at risk of. So that you wouldn`t have to go through the same pain, that I did due to scarce knowledge. I hope this adds to your information about allergies and helps you cope with them.
Allergies result when the immune system of our bodies react strangely to things that are generally harmless. Our immune system detects them as a threat to the body and starts showing reaction by overproducing antibodies. Allergies can either be mild or life-threatening, depending upon the individual or the type of allergy. Newborn babies are less likely to show allergies as compared to adults, because their bodies have not been exposed to foods, and the environment for a long period. Just like adults, babies are also at the risk of catching allergies from foods, medicines, and the environment. This becomes a serious problem when your baby is unable to communicate what is bothering him. Most of the food and medicine allergies start showing symptoms right after their consumption. This is why spotting food or medicine allergies are rather easier than environmental and seasonal allergies. Environmental allergies usually occur when a baby’s skin comes in contact with detergent in the clothes, or when he inhales dust or smells flowers. Environmental allergies are hard to spot and can affect your baby throughout the year. Seasonal allergies, however, only have effects during specific times of the year or in specific locations. These allergies originate from nearby trees and plants within the area, “Hay fever” is the term used for seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are mostly uncommon in babies because they haven’t lived through a season or two of high pollen counts. So, these types of inhaled allergies do not show up until the baby is 1-2 years old. Most of the allergies are hereditary, but some of them are not. For instance, if you are allergic to penicillin then your baby might also develop allergies not specifically for penicillin.
How to tell if your newborn baby has a cold or an allergy?
It is not easy to tell if the baby has a cold or an allergy because most of the apparent symptoms are the same. The following symptoms will help you distinguish among them:
Upper respiratory tract
Most of the colds are followed by a runny nose with cloudy discharge from the nose. These symptoms typically go away in a week, but If they do not then it’s a sign of an allergy.
If your baby is having a hard time breathing and swallowing, then it can be a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is rare but severe, causing swelling of the airways. Call 911 (or the emergency number in your country) if you believe that this is happening to your baby.
Lower respiratory tract
Wheezing and coughing are pretty normal in babies because they have small and sensitive airways within the lungs. Babies tend to cough and wheeze when these airways swell as a result of respiratory viruses. Sometimes this coughing and wheezing could be a symptom of a bigger problem, like asthma. Which affects about 15 percent of the kids in the United States.
Most of the allergic babies are prone to respiratory viruses and catch cold fast. Due to sensitivity, the airways of your baby have spasms and swelling, in response to viruses and allergens. This results in a dry, hacking cough, which can lead to wheezing. Wheezing in babies’ can be very dangerous, because it implies that the baby is having a hard time breathing due to swelled airways.
Viruses and allergies can also affect the eyes, resulting in conjunctivitis or pink eye. In the case of allergy, you will find the eyes of your baby red or crusted shut in the morning.
There are some specific symptoms related to eye allergies that will help you detect if the red-eye is an allergic response or not. Like babies with allergic eyes rub their eyes a lot because they become itchy, tear excessively, have dark under-eye circles, and be irritable.
Newborns are more susceptible to rashes, but most of these disappear by 2 to 3 months of age. The most common allergic reactions in babies are atopic dermatitis or eczema. This is also a warning sign for chances of future allergies.
Eczema is red, and scaly rash on the cheek, torso, arms, and legs of the baby. In toddlers and older children, eczema looks like a dry, itchy patch of the skin, mostly on the neck, wrists, and ankles, and in the elbow and knee creases.
Some babies have sensitive bodies and can catch allergies when they come in contact with soap, detergent, wool clothing, poison ivy, or another irritant. This type of allergy is known as contact dermatitis.
Some viruses’ can cause stomach allergies like vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, and gassiness. Babies and children that contract environmental allergies have upset stomach ailments as a result of swallowed phlegm, which irritates the stomach.
Read more: Allergies in Babies and Toddlers
Some allergies can also cause irritability and problem in sleeping and eating. Your allergic baby will feel fussy and uncomfortable most of the time. This happens because your baby is having chronic congestion, abdominal pain, or itchy skin, eyes, and nose.
Colds usually occur in winters, but indoor allergies that are present throughout the year can be the cause of your baby’s cold-like symptoms. A food allergy can occur any time after the food is consumed, it can either take a few minutes or a few hours to show. Most babies are not prone to seasonal hay fever, which is common in spring or fall.
Ways to soothe your newborn baby’s allergy symptoms
If your baby gets an allergy easily then you will need to relieve his symptoms and minimize the chances of recurring by making changes in the environment. Some most common allergic treatments are
- For eczema and other allergic rashes, use medicated skin moisturizers or 1% hydrocortisone cream
- Oral antihistamines, like Benadryl, for rapid relief of an older baby’s symptom
There’s a new drug approved by The Food and Drug Administration known as Zyrtec, for babies that suffer from year-round allergies in infants as young as 6 months old. This is completely safer to be used for infants and has shown promising results.
How to diagnose allergies in babies?
In order to find out what allergy is irritating your baby, your allergist will take the following tests:
In this test, a tiny allergen is placed with a needle under the skin. This test is known as the skin prick test. Sometimes a diluted allergen is placed under the skin, which is known as an intradermal test. If the skin does not show any reaction for the next 15 minutes then that specific allergen is eliminated and another allergen is tested.
A blood test is taken for babies who are younger than 6 months. Also, medications like antihistamine can change the accuracy of the skin test, which is why a blood test is preferred.
Elimination diet test
In this test, your pediatrician will ask you to remove food from the diet and see if that improves the condition. This helps in finding out which food is causing the allergy.
How can you prevent allergies in your baby?
If allergies have been part of your family for generations then take the following measures to avoid them:
- Breastfeed your baby for at least up to 6 months. You can increase the effectiveness of your milk if you also avoid eating allergenic foods like milk, eggs, fish, and nuts.
- If you do not breastfeed then use a formula containing hydrolysate. This has a protein that is virtually undetectable by the immune system).
You can also create a hypoallergenic environment for your sensitive baby by:
- Avoiding smoking within the house
- Using dust-mite-proof pillowcases and mattress covers
- Cleaning frequently
- Reducing carpets within the house
- Keeping your home pet-free
Allergies are likely to get worse if you increase their exposure to your baby. If you can eliminate the foods or things that are causing allergies for at least up to 6 months, then the body is most likely to forget about it.
To avoid seasonal and environmental allergies make a diary of what symptoms occur and when. This will help you figure out what is causing allergies in your baby.
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