When I was in medical school one of the most intimidating presences by
the bedside of a young child in the hospital wasn’t my professors
asking me questions -
it was the patient’s mom asking me tough
questions. Why? The moms seemed to know their child’s health and status better
than I could ever imagine. I swore I wouldn’t go into pediatrics
because how could I ever be a better doctor than “doctor mom”.
Well, after a lot of years of medical training of
allergy and immunology in the hospital and in private practice- I feel moms and I are on equal
footing. I think I have a lot to offer their children that suffer with
food and environmental allergies. But I still listen really carefully
because I know that no one knows their child better than they do!
This is why I think it’s so important that moms know about the term, “
The Allergic March”.
The Allergic March describes how young infants and children that present
with allergic signs and symptoms: rashes such as eczema, chronic nasal congestion and runny noses plus possible
food allergies can develop later on in life chronic respiratory diseases,
such as asthma or chronic sinusitis.
We use to hear a lot that “
children will outgrow their allergies” but the current medical research is indicating that early signs
of allergy don’t always go away and in fact can come back stronger
later in adulthood.
The increase in allergies in general as I mentioned in my book,
Mitchell’s Allergy and Asthma Solution, discusses the Hygiene Hypothesis as one of the best theories as to why
allergies are so pervasive today. The main gist of the hypothesis is that
our environmental factors: excessive antibiotic use, lack of exposure
to good microbes in the soil and dietary changes have caused the increase
The main allergic signs and symptoms to watch out for are:
Eczema(the medical term is atopic dermatitis): this is typically a very itchy
red rash that an infant or child can develop on the face and extremities-
mainly the flexor areas of the elbow and knees.
Rhinitis: this is typically the chronic nasal congestion, sneezing or runny nose
that allergic children suffer with. Children that have severe symptoms
can develop the “allergic salute”; this is where the back
of their hand is constantly rubbing their nose so it looks like they are
doing a military salute.
Wheezing: a child that wheezes doesn’t necessarily have asthma. But if he
has allergic parents and begins to have persistent wheezing with colds
this can be an indicator for developing asthma later in life.
Food allergies: we all know that
food allergies have become more common. Peanut allergy being the most well-known, but
egg, milk and wheat allergy are also quite prevalent. A child may be fortunate
to outgrow a food allergy such as milk, but they are still at risk for
developing other allergic conditions later on(allergic march).
Allergy testing is not only appropriate but important to do in these young
children with the above conditions. Why? Because if they are clearly identified
as allergic, then a plan of action can be developed to minimize allergen
exposure and also consider medical intervention to reduce symptoms and
prevent more severe allergies developing later on.
Allergy Treatment (It Doesn’t Have to Hurt)
The typical antihistamines used to treat allergies such as Claritin, Allegra
and Zyrtec are really just bandaids for the problem. They may give symptomatic
relief but they don’t treat the underlying immune changes that allergies
This is why I and many other allergy experts believe it is critical to
identify these children and offer them
allergen immunotherapy. The great news for the kids and the parents is that with the advances
in allergy today
sublingual allergy drops
can be used to treat children with environmental allergies
to desensitize them and prevent future allergies and asthma. You can take
my word for this or read my book as mentioned above that discusses this
treatment in depth.
The bottom line is that you can stop the Allergic March in its tracks with
time-sensitive allergy treatment.
- Dr. Dean Mitchell
Offices in Manhattan and Long Island