ASTHMA AND ALLERGY IN CHILDREN
Certain substances to which normal people do not react are called allergens, and the reaction that an allergic person gives when allergens are contacted is called allergy. While a person who is not allergic can go to picnic to the meadows among trees in the spring, one with history of allergy and pollen hypersensitivity suffers from a crisis associated with severe sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, itching, and cough in such an environment.
Substances called allergens are those including but not limited to home dust mites, grass, trees, grass pollens, cat and dog hairs, mold spores and milk-egg-nuts and some foods.
Allergic structure is the one which is
hereditarily transferred, and a person develops sensitivity to one or
more above allergens and starts to react. Developing as defined
above, the allergic diseases include asthma, eczema, allergic
rhinitis, and food and drug allergies.
Infants are in contact with foods from the mother's womb via
umbilical cord. For this reason, they may develop sensitivity to cow
milk and egg in the first few months after 2-3 months of age and they
may develop allergic eczema (atopic dermatitis). An infant with
eczema may loss the sensitivity to nutrients over time. In this way,
their eczema relieves, while they are developing sensitivity against
allergens such as dust and pollen, resulting with allergic rhinitis
Recently, incidence of allergic diseases increased in the form of
epidemics. Following features are remarkable when the increase is
questioned for last fifty years:
- Together with the industrialization, living at the poorly ventilated houses covered with carpet,
- Spending a substantial time for watching TV without any exercise,
- Wide spread use of antibiotics and reduction of some diseases by vaccines
-Changing eating habits (fast food) and obesity,
-Vitamin D deficiency depending on spending less time outside,
This increase is not seen in rural areas where people live in close contact with animals.
It can be speculated that recently, every one of three children suffers from asthma. Among the diseases related to allergy, asthma has the first rank. Asthma is the most common chronic pediatric disease and most common underlying of emergency medicine admittances. The frequency is about %10 in our country.
Cough is the most basic feature of the asthma. Particularly, it leads
to cough that wakes the patient up during night sleep and it
aggravates during day time depending on running and spending effort
and sometimes, it may cause dyspnea; combination of those findings is
referred as asthma attack. Eight percent of asthma cases start before
the age of six, and in this age range, cough and wheezing are common.
Additionally, premature children of smoker mother start the life
under disadvantages conditions and wheezing can be commonly seen in
this specific population. It is important to make differential
diagnosis of asthma and proper treatment must be started in a timely
Delay in treatment interferes with the quality of
life. In addition, it may cause permanent respiratory disorders in
the future. If parents have asthma or the child suffers from eczema,
cough and wheezing can be induced or if the child has allergic
attacks three times within last 1 year, it is considered as asthma.
How can we diagnose whether a child is
If a 2 to 3 months old child has eczema on her cheeks, we know that
the child has food-related allergic disease at rate of 50 percent.
This child may often have frequent nasal flow and congestion, cough
and obstruction as well as middle ear problems. For this reason,
preferred antibiotics may be useless. Even, unnecessary ear tube and
adenoid surgery may be required. Allergic structure is particularly
prone to viral respiratory tract infections in autumn and winter, and
such infections may be persistent. However, it is possible to
minimize such problems and ensure a healthy progress with allergy
consultation and protective measures. Each child with above specified
history is worthy to consider allergy assessment irrespective of
eczema or familial history of allergic condition.
What are protective measures for allergic
- Living in a house well-ventilated, non-carpeted,
easy to clean,
- Balanced and healthy diet,
- Avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics,
- Adequate exposure to sun rays and fresh air,
- Avoiding sedentary life, smoking and polluted air.