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CHOC’S MARCH HEALTH TIPS
March 01, 2003

If a child appears to have a slight cold that just won’t go away, take a closer look. Allergies may be the culprit. Check for these classic clues:

• Sneezing • Itchy, runny nose with clear or white mucus • Itchy or watery eyes • Itchy ears and throat • Persistent cough caused by post-nasal drip • Dark circles under the eyes, known as “allergic shiners” • Crease across the bridge of the nose, caused by frequent rubbing of an itchy nose

Allergies may be inherited, so if anyone in your family suffers from allergy, asthma or eczema, chances are your child could, too. The symptoms may show up as early as infancy, and change as your child grows.

“It is not unusual for a baby with a food allergy and perhaps some eczema to outgrow those allergies around age 2 or 3, and grow into allergic rhinitis, which is commonly called ‘hay fever,’” says pediatric allergist Mark Ellis, M.D., a member of the Pediatric Subspecialty Faculty at CHOC. “As the child gets older, and explores more of his environment, he may become sensitized to outdoor substances, such as pollen and animal dander.”

Skin Testing For a Positive ID

If a child is having problems with allergy, eczema or asthma, CHOC recommends checking with the pediatrician about skin testing. This test may be performed at any age. During skin testing, the child’s skin is pricked with small, diluted amounts of common allergens. The usual suspects include dust mites, mold, animal dander, feathers and pollen. Anywhere a hive develops is clear evidence the child is allergic to that substance.

Once the allergens have been identified, the treatment plan will include ways to modify the child’s environment in order to avoid, or at least minimize, exposure to the substances causing the allergic reactions.

Prescription medication may also be necessary to help stop that runny nose, sneezing and itching. While several over-the-counter antihistamines are available, Dr. Ellis says prescription allergy medication may be most effective in certain situations. Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are available for highly allergic children who need further relief.

About CHOC Children's: Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2013-2014) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital, CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence - The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence.  Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Pediatric Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.

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Media Contact:
Susan Thomas, Public Relations Specialist
phone: (714) 532-8812
email: sthomas@choc.org

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