Allergies are on the increase globally with 40% of sufferers being children.
Allergies are on the increase globally with 40 percent of sufferers being children.

Doctors warn that a severe allergic reaction could be life-threatening and that parents, teachers and childminders should be aware of what triggers a child’s allergic reaction and take note of the symptoms.

Quoting statistics from the Allergy Foundation of South Africa, Netcare medical director, Dr Anchen Laubscher, said that roughly a third of South Africans would be struck down by a severe allergic reaction such as asthma, hay fever, eczema, or by anaphylaxis.

The body’s immune systems overreacts to a usually harmless substance in the environment. Some of the most common allergens were peanuts, bee sting toxin and penicillin, Laubscher said.

“It is of critical importance for parents and childminders to be aware of what could elicit an allergic response, as well as to know the symptoms of allergies and severe allergic reactions, so that they can take the appropriate action to protect their children, should it ever become necessary,” she said.

Allergies affect the sufferer’s quality of life with chronic, persistent effects ranging from mild, barely noticeable, to “significantly inconveniencing”.

“In some cases, there can be a sudden and dramatic reaction such as severe skin inflammation, vomiting, swelling and respiratory compromise," Laubscher said.

"Such a reaction may be an indication that the child is suffering a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylactic shock, which is considered a medical emergency."

Highly-allergic children should wear a medical alert bracelet, and parents should always keep their medication, prescribed by a doctor, nearby, she added.

Exposure to substances such as certain foods, medicine, house-dust mites, pollens, mould spores, animal danders, insect spores, latex rubber, pet hair, cow’s milk, seafood, insect bites and stings, and many others things may cause an allergic reaction.