What are allergies?

An allergy is the immune’s system reaction to a normally harmless substance. Children with allergies are often sensitive to more than one thing.

Common substances that cause allergies (allergens) in children include:

• pollen
• dust mites
• molds
• insect stings or bites
• animal dander (including cat and dog allergies)
• feathers • cockroaches
• certain medications (like penicillin)
• certain foods


Symptoms can range from mild to life threatening and may include:

• sneezing, stuffiness or runny nose
• red, itchy or watery eyes
• skin rash or hives
• shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
• upset stomach


To diagnose allergies, your child’s doctor may do allergy testing, either by testing the skin or through a blood test.


Treatment for allergies may include avoiding allergy triggers, medication to reduce symptoms or allergy shots (immunotherapy) to reduce the child’s reaction to the allergen over time.