Q: When do children develop allergies?
A: Allergies are often passed genetically from parents to children. If only one parent has nasal or pet allergies, there’s a 40 percent to 50 percent chance that their child will have some sort of allergy as well. This increases to 75 percent to 80 percent when both parents have allergies!
Many parents are concerned about when their child will show signs of allergies. This depends on how much exposure the child has to the allergen. It usually takes months or years for an allergy to develop after initial exposure. Each allergic child has a certain amount of exposure that must occur before an allergen causes a reaction. This is why a child who inherits the tendency to be allergic to cedar pollen may have no trouble with cedar for the first few exposures, but once the threshold is reached, that child will react with the usual symptoms. In most cases seasonal allergies to pollen and grass usually don’t begin until a child is about 3 or 4. That’s because these allergies typically cause an exposure for only a few weeks each year.
Most children’s allergies will respond to over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants and prescription nasal sprays. However, we see many kids that don’t see any improvement until they are treated with allergy immunotherapy. Now that “shot-free” allergy testing and treatment is available, our pediatric patients are much more enthusiastic about fixing the problem.
Dr. Christopher Thompson is board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
Four Austin-area locations