What is an Allergy?
An allergy is when your body’s immune system over-reacts to something, and causes symptoms that range from the mildly irritating to life-threatening. The number of children suffering from allergic diseases has increased significantly over the past few years and now affects many children and their families, sometimes having a massive impact on their quality of life.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we understand how important allergy testing, diagnosis and management is for children and their families. We have an experienced team of allergy specialists working from our medical centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They who work alongside our paediatric specialists, using the latest diagnostic equipment and allergy testing methodologies to find out exactly what’s causing your child’s allergy. They can then advise you about how to control your child’s symptoms on a day-to-day basis.
We take a holistic approach to child allergy treatment, recognising the complexity of the condition and the anxiety many families feel. Our treatments combine dietary changes and skincare treatment, drawing on the expertise of our highly skilled multidisciplinary team of doctors. We are also particularly aware of reducing any side-effects, for example from having steroid treatment.
Allergies that we diagnose and treat in children include:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Allergies caused by household products
- Angioedema (swelling)
- Animal allergies
- Chest problems (short or long term)
- Eczema and skin allergies
- Food allergies
- Gastrointestinal (GI) allergy
- Hay fever
- Insect sting allergies
- Medication allergies
- Urticaria (hives or nettle rash)
What are the symptoms of an allergy?
An allergen may act as a ‘trigger’ that causes a response that can be anything from a sniffle to a life-threatening condition known as ‘anaphylaxis’. Triggers can include many things that your child comes into contact every day and can include dust, dairy products, animals, and wheat.
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects more than one part of the body – for example, the airways, heart, circulation, gut and skin. Symptoms can begin very quickly – within seconds of exposure to an allergen – and rapidly become worse. Common causes include insect stings, foods, and medication such as penicillin. In the most serious cases, your child may go into ‘anaphylactic shock’ where there is a dramatic fall in blood pressure. At this stage they may become unconscious and medical help is urgently required. Children are more at risk of anaphylaxis if:
- They have symptomatic asthma that is not well controlled
- They have an infection, or have recently had one
- They exercise immediately before or after they come into contact with the allergen
- They are suffering from hay fever
- They are particularly stressed
If your child is at risk of anaphylaxis (for example, if he or she has a severe nut allergy) you may be advised to carry an auto-injector at all times in case you need to administer adrenalin in an emergency. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
What is allergy testing?
Our doctors offer a full allergy challenge testing service (using skin prick tests and blood tests) as well as food challenge testing.
What is an oral food challenge?
Food challenge is carried out in a controlled environment with continuous clinical monitoring by trained doctor and nursing staff. Incremental amounts of food are given under medical supervision to confirm or rule out food allergy.
How is allergy testing carried out?
Testing is carried out by doctor and trained nurse specialists who monitor children during and after feeds or medication to check for any allergic reaction. Food allergy testing carried out in this way is considered very safe but emergency back-up is in place if required.
How are allergies treated?
Our doctors treat a range of allergies and will discuss your child’s treatment options with you so you can make an informed choice. Treatments for allergies include:
- Allergen immunotherapy to modify your child’s reaction to allergens
- Medications to treat severe asthma
- Creams to treat and prevent eczema
- Day case appointments for children who have severe eczema and multi-system allergic diseases
More information/support groups
There are a number of UK-based charities that can offer helpful advice and support through their websites for children with allergies and their families:
If you would like to know more about the allergies that could affect your child and the treatments we offer, please get in touch. Our allergy specialists based in our Dubai and Abu Dhabi clinics have extensive knowledge and experience in diagnosing and helping parents manage their children’s allergies. Contact us for more information or to arrange an appointment with one of our specialist doctors.