How to Determine if Your Child's Allergies Are Life-Threatening

How to Determine if Your Child's Allergies Are Life-Threatening

Allergies are very common in children and adults, and reactions to allergen exposure can range from mild to severe or life-threatening. Determining if your child’s allergies are life-threatening is something that could save their life.

According to board-certified pediatrician Rainilda Valencia, MD, and pediatric care providers Micaela Marin-Tucker, PA-C, and Megan Reynolds, C-PNP, at Valencia Pediatrics in Victorville, California, it’s possible to safely discover if your child’s allergies are life-threatening. Here we help you understand how.

Different allergic reaction levels

Allergic reactions can be mild, moderate, or severe. Mild and moderate allergies aren’t life-threatening and can usually be managed by following a treatment plan like avoiding the allergen, taking medication, or using inhalers.

For a smaller number of children, allergies can be severe and even life-threatening. The most common life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.

If your child experiences anaphylactic shock, exposure to the allergen trigger causes their blood pressure to drop and their airway to close, making breathing difficult. Anaphylactic shock is life-threatening and requires immediate treatment and emergency room monitoring.

Determining the severity of the allergic reaction

If you’re concerned your child’s allergies could be life-threatening, the only safe way to figure it out is by bringing your child in for an allergen test with our team. Attempting to learn this on your own could cause a potentially dangerous situation for your child.

A challenge test is the only allergy testing that determines the severity of your child’s allergy. Other tests, like an allergy skin test or blood test, can tell you if your child has the allergy, but not the level of severity.

Getting the allergy challenge test

An allergy challenge test takes anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day. Before the test takes place, our team advises that your child avoid any suspected allergens and to stop taking antihistamines for up to four days before the test. They shouldn’t eat or drink for two hours before the test.

During the test, your child is first exposed to tiny amounts of the allergen, for example, being given a tiny bit of peanut butter to eat. Our team then waits for 15 minutes to see if they have an allergic reaction.

If your child doesn’t react to the allergen, our team continues to give them increasingly large portions of the allergen. The time it takes for your child to have an allergic reaction and the severity of the reaction tells us how serious your child’s allergy is.

If your child doesn’t react to the highest levels of the allergen, our team can rule out your child having an allergy to that particular allergen. For the greatest accuracy and success, you can help by keeping your child relaxed and calm during the allergy testing.

Treating life-threatening allergies

If the challenge test reveals life-threatening allergies, our team develops a treatment plan to keep your child safe. Typically, we recommend your child avoid the life-threatening allergen trigger.

In case your child accidentally gets exposed to the allergen, we give them or their caregivers a medication like an EpiPen®. This medication needs to be injected as soon as your child starts showing symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Additionally, your child needs to go to the emergency room after a severe allergic reaction. At the emergency room, they can receive life-saving treatment like oxygen and IV drugs to help them recover.

Keeping your child safe if they have life-threatening allergies is a top priority for our team. For allergy testing or an allergy management plan, make an appointment at Valencia Pediatrics by calling our office today.

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