If your child frequently sneezes or coughs, develops a rash or hives, or experiences stomach pain, cramps, or nausea after eating certain foods, it could indicate an allergy. It is crucial to closely monitor these symptoms to determine if your child has any allergies and identify the specific triggers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that by 2025, over 40 percent of children will have allergy problems.

Allergies in children: The symptoms

Common symptoms of allergies in children include:

  • Skin rashes, such as dermatitis, eczema, or urticarial rashes.
  • Difficulty breathing, often associated with asthma
  • Frequent sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or itchy eyes.
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances, particularly vomiting and diarrhea.

Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, refers to a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:

  • Difficult or noisy breathing.
  • Difficulty speaking or a hoarse voice.
  • Swelling or tightness of the tongue and throat.
  • Wheezing or persistent cough.
  • In young children, paleness and flaccidity.
  • Persistent dizziness or fainting.
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, or vomiting after an insect bite.

Please consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment if your child displays any of these symptoms.

Timing of Allergic Reactions 

Allergic reactions can occur either immediately or with a delay. 

  • An immediate allergic reaction typically occurs within minutes or up to 1-2 hours after a child has encountered or consumed the allergen. 
  • A delayed allergic reaction usually takes place several hours after exposure. In certain instances, the response may occur several days after the child has come into contact with the allergenic substance. 

Common Allergy Triggers in Children 

Various factors can trigger allergies in children. Here are the most common triggers categorized by their source:

Outdoor Triggers: 

  • Tree pollen
  • Plant pollen
  • Mold
  • Insect bites

Indoor Triggers:

  • Pet or animal hair or fur
  • Dust mites
  • Mold

Irritant Triggers:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume
  • Car exhaust

Dietary Triggers:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Nuts

Allergic rhinitis – hay fever

Allergic rhinitis is the most common childhood disorder caused by allergies. Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose and itching
  • Sneezing
  • Retronasal drip and nasal congestion (blockage)

A child with allergies may also develop other symptoms, such as:

  • Itching
  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Chronic ear problems

Although it is commonly known as “hay fever,” it is not caused by hay and does not cause fever.

Nasal Congestion

Allergies are the most common cause of chronic nasal congestion (i.e., a stuffy nose) in children. Sometimes, a child’s nose becomes so congested that they must breathe through their mouth, mainly while sleeping. This can disrupt their sleep and result in fatigue the following day.

Ear Infections

Some allergies can affect the ears, causing inflammation, promoting infections, and decreasing hearing. This can manifest as symptoms such as earache, itching, popping, and a feeling of fullness, often called “plugged ears.”

Food Allergies

During breastfeeding, some babies, particularly those who are more sensitive, may experience allergic reactions to certain foods consumed by their mothers. In such cases, it becomes necessary to conduct allergy tests on the babies by eliminating specific foods from the new mother’s diet.

In children, the most prevalent allergies are often related to peanuts and milk. Additional triggers may arise from consuming eggs, fish, shellfish (such as crabs, lobsters, and shrimp), soy, various nuts (like cashews and walnuts), and wheat.

Typically, the most severe reactions occur with the intake of peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish, which can persist as lifelong allergies. However, children frequently outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, soy, and wheat that manifest during the first few months of life.

Allergies and School

It is crucial to inform the school about any allergies your child may have. If your child has asthma or a severe allergy, provide a copy of their action plan to the school nurse or administrative office. Additionally, discuss your child’s access to necessary medications, including adrenaline, in an emergency. 

At school, children with allergy issues may benefit from sitting away from the blackboard to avoid irritation caused by chalk dust.


It is essential to be aware that animal hair can also trigger allergic reactions in children. If your child experiences allergy or asthma symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, rashes, runny nose, or sneezing, it could be due to pet exposure. 

Asthma and Physical Education

Physical education and sports play a significant role in a child’s school day. Having asthma does not mean your child has to give up these activities altogether. Children with asthma and other allergic conditions should be able to participate in the sports they choose as long as they follow the advice given by their doctor.