Allergies can also affect a child's learning. Numerous scientific studies have shown that children with allergies don't learn as well as children who don't have allergies. It's also been shown that children treated with non-sedating medicines do better than children who go untreated, but children treated with sedating medication may have a harder time learning than children who are not treated at all. So one has to be very careful about the medicine chosen to treat children.
A lot of children who have allergies tend to avoid social gatherings because their nose is running. They're stuffy; they always have to carry tissues. And even if they don't complain to their parents, they're still very self-conscious about their symptoms and how they look. So they may avoid certain environments that make their allergies worse.
Are we seeing more children diagnosed with allergies in recent years?
Over the past 20 years, diagnosis of allergies has increased significantly, and there are a number of theories behind this. Some believe that the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of the American child, together with the consumption of more high-fat foods may be causing the increase. Another potential reason is the increase in wall-to-wall carpeting, which promotes dust mites, a significant cause of allergies. It may also be due to an increase in the amount of pollutants in the environment. Also, children are given antibiotics earlier and earlier to treat infections, so antibiotic resistance may play a role. These are all theories.
How do allergies first occur in early childhood?
Allergies go through different phases in children. Most infants with allergies have atopic dermatitis, or dry, itchy skin and allergic skin rashes. They may also have food allergies. As they get older, the food allergies tend to go away, and they start to develop symptoms of allergic rhinitis around four to six years of age. Many of these children with allergic rhinitis will then go on to have allergic asthma in their early teens.