Kids Should Feel Whole Inside and Out
Every child should be able to enjoy their world without the threat of an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous allergic reaction. When contact with airborne triggers (like pollen, pet dander and mold) or with other triggers (like latex, medicines and foods) causes a negative reaction, our team is ready with specialized, kid-sized care. The allergy and immunology experts at AdventHealth for Children, formerly Florida Hospital for Children, are specially trained in three areas: food allergies; asthma and environmental allergies; and primary immunodeficiency disorders. They work hard to diagnose the cause of your child’s allergy and devise an effective, individualized plan for addressing it.
- Food Allergies
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the prevalence of food allergies among those under age 18 is somewhere between 1 and 10 percent. This means that millions of U.S. children may be living with a diagnosed or undiagnosed food allergy, and your child could easily be one of them. Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system is stimulated against certain proteins – or from food sensitivities, which cause similar symptoms but do not involve an immune response. Most kids will grow out of these problems by the time they reach five years old, particularly when the allergy is tied to dairy products, wheat or soy. Unfortunately, however, allergies that tend to cause some of the most severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms – including allergies to shellfish and peanuts – are not as easy to shake.
Skin changes such as flushing, hives, and swelling; vomiting or diarrhea; respiratory tract problems such as nasal congestion, excessive mucus, airway swelling, difficulty breathing, or wheezing; and cardiovascular signs such as abnormal heart rhythms or abnormally decreased blood pressure all may indicate a food allergy. It is important to seek medical assistance to identify any food allergy when one is suspected, even if the allergic reaction is fairly mild. This is because subsequent exposures to some allergens can prompt a much more serious reaction. The most commonly diagnosed food allergies are those to milk, eggs and peanuts, followed by wheat, soy and tree nuts. Treatment of these conditions ranges from trigger avoidance strategies to antihistamine medications, Epi-pen emergency injections and clinical trials.
Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction with a rapid onset (within minutes to hours) and involvement of the skin and/or mucus membranes. Anaphylaxis also affects the respiratory system (dyspnea, wheezing, bronchospasm, stridor) or the circulatory system with a drop in blood pressure or other symptoms, in addition to the skin or mucus membrane signs.
Peanut Allergy Concerns
Peanut allergies are of growing concern to parents as they can be life-threatening to young children. A new blood test is in development that aims to be able to discover peanut allergies earlier and less expensively than the system currently in place. If you or your child have a nut allergy, you need to read the ingredients on food packages very carefully. Very often, processed foods are made in plants where other allergens (peanuts, tree nuts) are processed, and any small amounts ingested due to cross-contamination may cause a dangerous allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
Epinephrine is a peptide hormone used to treat anaphylaxis in an emergency. Epinephrine pens are available by prescription and the medication is usually administered via an auto-injector, a medical device used for injecting a measured dose or doses of the medication. If your child has a severe food allergy, they may need to carry a portable epinephrine shot (Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, EpiPen) for emergency self-treatment. Have them memorize the directions for use long before an allergic reaction occurs and be sure to ask your healthcare provider if you have questions. If your child has not been screened for allergies or you suspect they have developed new ones, see a pediatrician as soon as possible. The best way to prevent an allergy emergency is with prevention and preparation. We’re here to help.
- Asthma and Environmental Allergies
Environmental allergies are different from food allergies because they involve an immune response to something in your child’s surroundings rather than something they’ve consumed. This can include airborne pollutants such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, cigarette smoke and mold. Symptoms of environmental allergies include respiratory/pulmonary issues such as shortness of breath, wheezing, sneezing and a runny nose. They may also include headaches, itching and fatigue. For children who have asthma, the symptoms of environmental allergies can be very serious.
Chronic asthma is fairly common. An estimated 20 million adults and children in the U.S. have the condition. In those under 18 years of age, it is one of the most common chronic disorders the country, currently afflicting over seven million children. Asthma is a disease of the branches of the windpipe, which are known as the bronchial tubes. When these tubes become inflamed, they narrow. This causes a tight feeling in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing. An asthma episode can be triggered by a variety of factors including allergens like pollen, respiratory infections and colds, pollutants, sudden temperature changes and stress. Children who experience asthma symptoms should be medically evaluated because this condition can be very serious if left untreated. AdventHealth specialists work with you to identify the problems that trigger your child’s asthma. Once diagnosed, they develop a treatment plan that will relieve your child’s symptoms, prevent flare-ups and restore your loved one to whole health as quickly as possible.
- Primary Immunodeficiencies
Immunodeficiency refers to a disorder in which the immune system is compromised due to a viral infection, immunosuppressant medication or a genetic condition. This disorder makes a person much more susceptible to infections and illnesses that may be more serious in an immuno-deficient patient than one in whom the body’s natural defenses are working properly.
Children with immunodeficiencies may experience delayed growth and development issues along with digestive issues such as cramping and diarrhea. Treatments for immunodeficiency are aimed at bolstering the immune system and helping the body fight harmful pathogens. This may be accomplished via immunoglobulin therapy in which needed antibodies are added to the blood, gamma interferon therapy or growth factors that increase the number of healthy white blood cells.
- Methods of Diagnosis
To diagnose and treat your child, we utilize proven and effective allergy testing methods.
- Skin Prick Test
- Intradermal Skin Test
- Patch Testing
- Trial Elimination Diet
- Blood Test
- Oral Food Challenge
For Our Most Special Patients
Because allergies and immunology issues can involve several medical disciplines, the team of specialists at AdventHealth for Children, formerly Florida Hospital for Children, works collaboratively with other experts in the hospital, ensuring that your child receives the best care at all levels. Often, an allergy or immunodeficiency can be a symptom of another problem, but by working together, our experts can more accurately diagnose and treat even the most mystifying conditions. We are proud that our efforts have helped advance the development of new treatments, including some being tested in ongoing clinical trials.
Meet Our Allergy Team
Caring for the Whole Family
Now is the time for you to focus on your child, not logistics. Our multidisciplinary care team not only helps children get the medical care they need and deserve, we help families find hope and confidence. That means connecting you with local community resources and support groups, even helping you find a ride to your child’s appointments. Whatever the need, big or small, we’re here to support every member of the family throughout your child's care journey.
Conditions We Treat
- Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)
- Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
- Drug Allergies
- Food Allergies
- Immune System Problems and Immunologic Disorders
- Insect Sting Allergies
- Severe Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis)