The World Allergy Organization is observing World Allergy Week 2020 from 28 June to 4 July 2020. The focus of the event, this year, is on the theme of “Allergy care does not stop with COVID-19.” Perhaps, this is the most relevant theme for the event, given the coronavirus crisis that the world is currently facing. As new information about the virus comes in, the list of COVID-19 symptoms continues to get longer, and it worries everyone.
Some symptoms of the COVID-19 infection overlap with allergic reactions or symptoms of allergies. This is more common in children since COVID-19 causes only mild symptoms in children. It also becomes difficult to differentiate between an allergic reaction or a disease like COVID-19, since caretakers and parents are unaware of any existing allergies among children at such a young age. This can create panic and worry among parents about their child catching an infection, which may just be an allergic reaction to a small environmental change.
Dr C. Suman Kumar, Consultant Paediatrician and Allergist, Ankura Hospital for Women and Children, in conversation with Times Now Digital threw light on how symptoms of COVID-19 in children are different from allergic reactions, when should parents know their child is allergic to something, and what they can do to prevent certain specific allergies.
Anushree Gupta: Studies have shown that children show mild symptoms of COVID-19. How do these symptoms vary from symptoms of regular flu and allergies, especially in children?
Dr C. Suman Kumar: COVID-19 in children mostly show mild symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough and very rarely breathlessness. Fever usually persists up to day 7 to day 8 with severity during day 4 – day 7. The mild nature of these symptoms is due to the low number of ACE 2 cells in children as compared to adults, required for COVID-19 to rapidly replicate and cause serious symptoms.
Children frequently suffer from seasonal flu which most of the time causes panic among parents as its symptoms are similar to that of COVID-19. The only way to differentiate is, symptoms like fever will subside by day 5 followed by cold and cough within 6-7 days mostly. Children hardly develop breathlessness.
Seasonal allergy is another condition which can mimic COVID-19 with symptoms like running nose, cough and breathlessness, but the best way to differentiate is that there will be no fever. Sneezing and itching are quite common, the symptoms are recurrently triggered by allergens and respond to treatment very well.
Anushree Gupta: What should be the tipping point for a parent to know if their child is allergic to something?
Dr C. Suman Kumar: Recurrence of symptoms concerning time, surrounding and food is important. The moment a child gets up from the bed and starts to sneeze, he or she mostly is allergic to dust mites. The moment a child sneezes or coughs, when he or she steps out on to the road, it is mostly pollen allergy. Consumption of a particular food that leads to developing hives and breathlessness, mostly it could be a food allergy. Proper history by the allergist helps in identifying the allergen.
Anushree Gupta: What are some tips you would like to give parents for an emergency when their child is having an allergic reaction?
Dr C. Suman Kumar: The most common allergic emergencies in children are sudden onset of acute severe asthma causing breathlessness and sudden onset of hives and swelling of the face resulting in angioedema and sometimes death. For asthma in children, simple inhaled bronchodilators and rescue steroids help, while for hives, angioedema epinephrine injection helps. If your child is showcasing symptoms for the very first time, always rush to the emergency room nearby. If symptoms are recurrent then emergency medicines can be kept at home and consumed under doctor guidance.
Anushree Gupta: What are some common causes of allergies among children? Can they be controlled or prevented?
Dr C. Suman Kumar: The most common causes of allergies in children are mostly because of indoor pollutants like dust-mite, cockroach dander and fungi. They can easily be controlled by following these simple tips at home:
For preventing Dust mite allergy
- Keep the bedroom minimalistic for kids with fewer curtains, carpets, clothes, books etc.
- Ensure that the bedroom is well ventilated.
- Parents must make it a habit to change bed linens including quilts and pillow covers every 3 days.
For prevention of cockroach allergy
- Restrict food to the kitchen and dining room, avoid eating in the living room and bedrooms.
- Avoid leaving the food open at night.
- Always keep the kitchen and dining table clean at night before going to sleep.
For prevention of fungi allergy
- Keep the bathrooms dry and prevent wet walls.
- Ensure good sunlight enters the house.
- Prevent dark and wet areas.
- If the child is known to be allergic, it is better to avoid pets in the house. If you have a pet in the house, make sure it doesn’t enter the bedrooms.
(With inputs from timesnownews)