Coughs, runny noses, stomach aches, feeling a bit breathless after a lot of physical activity — these are normal parts of childhood.
But when these symptoms are severe or frequent — especially after eating a certain food or simply walking up the stairs — they may be signs of asthma or allergy.
What Sets Children’s Apart?
Our Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Clinic offers many different services to children with allergies, asthma, or immune disorders, including:
- Asthma, allergy, or eczema education: Information about conditions and strategies for managing them
- Pulmonary function tests: Tests that show how well your child’s lungs are working
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy): A series of shots to reduce allergy symptoms, or in some children, help prevent the development of new allergies
- Allergy testing: Skin or blood tests to determine which foods or substances could cause allergic reactions
- Oral food tests: Your child is given small amounts of certain foods to test if there is an allergic reaction
- Drug desensitization: Helps children take medications they are allergic to without experiencing life-threatening reactions. This allows children to take the medications they need for other medical conditions and treatments
- Evaluation of immunodeficiency: Tests the function of your child’s immune system—the system responsible for fighting infection and keeping the body healthy
- Full-service laboratory facilities
- Hospital inpatient care
- Specialists on-call 24 hours a day for emergency situations
Conditions We Treat
Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever)The body’s immune system overreacts to something in the environment (e.g., pollen, pet hair, perfume). This causes a runny or stuffy nose; frequent sneezing; and itchy eyes, mouth, or nose. Allergic rhinitis is often treated with over-the-counter medications or nasal sprays.
AnaphylaxisThis is the most severe type of allergic reaction. It comes on very quickly and can be life-threatening. In most cases, anaphylaxis is caused by food, medications, or insect stings. Symptoms can include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting, or shock. A child with a severe allergy may need to carry an EpiPen, a shot that injects a life-saving drug called epinephrine into their bodies during anaphylaxis.
AngioedemaSwelling that is similar to hives, but occurs underneath the skin. The swelling is usually in the face, throat, digestive tract, or airways. It can occur because of an allergic reaction, but most cases have no known cause. Your child may be prescribed antihistamines or anti-inflammatory medications. For severe reactions, where angioedema is causing difficulty breathing, your child may need an emergency medication, such as a shot of epinephrine or an inhaler.
AsthmaA child’s airways become inflamed (swollen), making it difficult to breathe normally. It can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are brought on by triggers, such as allergies (e.g., fur, mold), exercise, or weather changes. When this occurs, it is called a flare-up (also known as an asthma attack or asthma episode). Asthma may be treated with daily medication, as well as emergency medication for flare-ups.
Contact DermatitisThe skin becomes red, swollen, or sore after coming into direct contact with a certain substance. Irritant dermatitis is the most common type, and it is not the result of an allergy — it’s just the skin’s reaction to the substance. It is often caused by contact with certain detergents, soaps, fabric softeners, or solvents. Allergic contact dermatitis is an actual allergic reaction — the immune system reacts to a harmless substance as if it is dangerous. This can be caused by many types of allergens, such as medications, fragrances, rubber, latex, or metals.
Drug AllergyThe immune system overreacts to a medication, and reacts as if medication is dangerous. Symptoms may include hives, rash, itching, breathing problems, or swelling. The most severe reaction is called anaphylaxis — a life-threatening reaction that can make it difficult to breathe, and send the body into shock.
Eczema and Atopic DermatitisEczema refers to several types of skin swelling. It often causes dry, itchy skin; as well as rashes on the face, behind the knees, inside the elbows, and on the hands and feet. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It usually develops in infants and may clear up as a child gets older. Eczema can be treated with topical medications (applied directly onto the skin), over-the-counter medications, or prescription drugs.
Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal DiseasesThese diseases cause children to have hypersensitive reactions to food. It occurs when allergic blood cells (eosinophils) are present in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract (digestive tract). The blood cells can build up and cause swelling, and may potentially cause tissue damage. Treatment may involve a combination of food avoidance and asthma medications to block the allergic response in the digestive tract, as well as to relieve symptoms.
These diseases are similar to food allergies, but there is a key difference: Food allergies mainly involve an immediate reaction from the immune system. Eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases involve the digestive tract. In these diseases, the effects (e.g. swelling) of the food the person is allergic to build up over time and can cause long-term tissue damage.
Food AllergyThe immune system overreacts to a food or substance in a food, and reacts as if the food or substance is dangerous. Symptoms can range from mild (e.g., skin redness, strange taste in the mouth) to severe (e.g., trouble swallowing, chest pain). The most severe reaction is called anaphylaxis — a life-threatening reaction that can make it difficult to breathe, and send the body into shock. Your child may be prescribed emergency medication to take if they begin having a severe allergic reaction.
Immune DeficiencyThe immune system does not function correctly, or part of the immune system is missing. This puts your child at an increased risk for developing infections — particularly of the lungs, sinuses, mouth, eyes, and digestive tract. Treatment usually involves preventing and treating infections, or replacing the missing part of the immune system.
Recurrent InfectionsAll children have infections now and then. But when infections happen over and over again, they could be a sign of something more serious, such as an immunodeficiency disorder. We work to find and treat the cause of your child’s recurring infections and prevent future infections.
SinusitisFluid builds up and becomes trapped in the sinuses (the hollow air spaces inside the bones surrounding the nose). It is caused by an infection or irritant (e.g., secondhand smoke). Common symptoms include headache, stuffy nose, facial pain or pressure, sore throat, and coughing. Sinusitis often goes away on its own. However, if it was caused by a bacterial infection, your child may be given antibiotics.
Urticaria (hives)Red, itchy bumps on the skin usually caused by an allergic reaction to a food or drug. However, they can also be caused by an infection or stress. Generally, hives go away on their own. But, if your child has a severe case, they might need medication.
Food Hypersensitivity Clinic
Our Food Hypersensitivity Clinic specializes in diagnosing and treating childhood eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. These are diseases where allergic blood cells (eosinophils) are present in the lining of the digestive tract. The blood cells can build up and cause swelling, and may potentially cause tissue damage.
These diseases are similar to food allergies. However, food allergies are generally immediate responses from the immune system, whereas eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases are disorders of the digestive tract. Eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases may also cause long-term damage.
Children with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases can experience many different types of symptoms, such as abdominal pain or diarrhea, from certain foods. These diseases can also take a toll on a child’s mental health and wellbeing. Children with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases have been shown to suffer from social anxiety, separation panic, and negative mood.
Our clinic gives children access to experts across multiple medical specialties. In addition to physicians and nurses, your child may work with a team of:
- Respiratory therapists who help children with breathing problems associated with hypersensitivity to food, such as shortness of breath
- Allergists who work to block the allergic response to the digestive tract, and help control symptoms of food hypersensitivity
- Gastroenterologists that monitor and treat damage to the digestive system
- Dietitians to help families create diet plans that do not include foods the child is allergic to, while still making sure they are meeting nutritional needs
- Social workers to work with children on managing the emotional effects of food hypersensitivity, such as depression or anxiety
Treatment may involve avoiding certain foods combined with asthma medications to block the allergic response in the digestive tract and to relieve symptoms.
Children who are extremely sensitive to a food allergen may need to avoid touching or smelling it, or touching any surfaces that may have come into contact with it. Our team can provide allergy/anaphylaxis planning to your child’s school, as appropriate.
- Allergies are more common in children; however, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age.
- Allergies tend to occur in families.
- Food allergies are seen in 8 percent of children under age 6.
- Between 1997 and 2011, the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent.
- At least 6.2 million children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with asthma.
- Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalizations for children younger than 15.
Allergy & Immunology
Allergy & Immunology
What To Do Next
Make An Appointment
To make an appointment, call 402-955-5570.
For Referring Providers
The Physicians’ Priority Line is your 24-hour link to pediatric specialists at Children’s for referrals, emergency and urgent consults, physician-to-physician consults, admissions, and transport services. Call 855-850-KIDS (5437).
Learn more about referring patients.