Allergies in Children

Sometimes, the sniffles are more than you bargained for. See staying healthy pictures to learn more.

Any parent can attest to the fact that there's no shortage of things to worry about when it comes to raising children. When one of those worries becomes a reality in the form of a medical condition, "normal" worries begin to seem like the good old days.

Allergies are one such condition, ranging from nuisance to red alert in terms of severity. After coming in contact with an allergen (a cat, for instance), a kid with allergies might exhibit itchy, watery eyes and red, splotchy skin. A runny nose is another common symptom, and sometimes, children will rub their noses so often that the upward motion of the hand causes a crease to appear on the bridge of their nose. That's not the only cosmetic effect -- some children suffering from allergies develop what appear to be black eyes (as if they've been struck on the face) that develop as a result of nasal congestion. Stuffy noses can also lead to labored breathing through the mouth.

These symptoms may seem minor, but they add up. When allergies are in effect, kids can lose sleep, spending their days tired and irritated as a result. Frequent loss of sleep means missed school days and a drop in academic performance. And when a kid has to stay home from school, it often means a parent has to take a day off work, too.

Sometimes it's easy to pinpoint what's causing your child's allergic reaction. Perhaps you just brought home a new puppy, or your child just ate a certain food. But sometimes, finding the culprit is quite difficult.

So what exactly are allergies? How common are they? Are some children "more allergic" than others? And what can set off an allergic reaction anyway?

Let's begin by taking a look at what happens inside the body when an allergic reaction occurs.