Allergies and asthma are among the most common chronic conditions affecting children. Because both are associated with symptoms involving the airway, it can make it difficult to tell which one your child is experiencing. Below we provide an overview of symptoms associated with both allergies and asthma, how the two conditions are related and how to tell the difference.
Allergies in Children
Allergies are the result of an immune system response. When a child with allergies is exposed to a normally harmless substance known as an allergen, their immune system releases antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which tells the cells to release histamine. Histamine causes inflammation, mucus production and itchiness.
This response can cause symptoms such as:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy or scratchy throat
Asthma in Children
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that involves inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tubes that carry air to the lungs. Asthma that is not well controlled can result in difficulty learning, playing and sleeping.
Asthma symptoms include:
- Wheezing or noisy breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to catch breath
Asthma may be allergic or non-allergic.
Allergic asthma, also known as extrinsic asthma or allergy-induced asthma, is triggered by exposure to allergens. Because of this, attacks are most common in the spring and summer. It’s possible to be triggered year-round by allergens such as dust mites and mold, however.
Non-allergic asthma, otherwise known as intrinsic asthma, can have a variety of triggers such as respiratory infections, exercise, smoke exposure and stress.
How to Tell the Difference Between Allergies & Asthma in Children
In many cases, you can tell the difference between allergies and asthma based on symptoms. While both conditions are associated with coughing, the other symptoms can help point to which condition your child has.
It’s also possible that your child has both allergies and asthma, meaning they could exhibit symptoms from both lists.
The best way to learn whether your child is affected is for them to be evaluated by a doctor. An allergist can make a diagnosis based on:
- Type, severity and frequency of symptoms
- Medical history
- Family history
Once the conditions are diagnosed, they will develop a treatment plan.
If your child exhibits allergy or asthma symptoms after playing at Six Mile Waterworks Park, schedule an appointment with an expert allergist. Call Albany ENT & Allergy Services today.