It is that time of the year again. Allergies are rearing their ugly head, and everywhere you look, there are kids and adults alike sneezing, sniffling and just downright miserable.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI) says that allergies are the most common chronic condition across the globe, and can range in severity from simple sneezing and sniffling to more serious, life-threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis.

For kids, allergies can be even worse because they can hinder their playtime outdoors and their normal routines.  Even worse, for some children, allergies can trigger asthma attacks.

An allergic reaction begins in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears or lining of the stomach.  Some of the most common allergens include pollen, grass, dust, food, latex or insect stings.  If you suspect your child may be an allergy sufferer, you may want to consider making an appointment with an allergist, a specialized physician who can aid in an allergy diagnosis, manage and treat the allergies.

Allergy testing is just one way to pinpoint the things your child may be allergic to, and there are a number of ways this can be performed.  Skin testing is the most common method, and is done by pricking the skin with various allergens.  If swelling, itchiness, or redness occurs, it may be likely that your child is allergic to that particular allergen.  Challenge testing is done mainly in cases of possible food or medication allergies and involves the child inhaling or swallowing a small amount of the allergen, in the presence of a trained allergist.  A blood test may be used when a skin test could be unsafe.

To help control allergies, or hay fever, it may be helpful to monitor your area’s pollen counts, which can be obtained from a variety of sources, including the AAAI or your local news station. Determine the count for a particular day and plan your activities accordingly.  On days when pollen counts are high, you and your children may want to limit exposure to the outdoors.

In addition, if you or your child is on allergy medications, it is important to note that these medications work most effectively when used well before your first interaction with allergens.  This is true because the medicine prevents the release of the body’s histamines, resulting in the stoppage of the development of the allergy symptoms or a decrease in severity.

For more information about allergies, asthma or to find an allergist in your area, visit the AAAI’s website.