Caring for a child with allergies

Q: What are the most common types of allergies in children?

Allergy care at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital

Our physicians specialize in diagnosing allergies and asthma, and helping children manage these conditions in a way that does not interfere with daily activities. Your child’s care team may include:

  • Physicians and nurses specializing in allergy and asthma care
  • Respiratory care therapists
  • Nutritionists


Meet Dr. Wolf


Raoul L. Wolf, MD

Professor of Pediatrics

Section Chief, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

Dr. Wolf: Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is a reaction to environmental allergens that affects more than 40 percent of children. In addition, food allergies are increasing in prevalence, with milk and eggs among the least tolerated foods.

Q. What are the signs of an allergic reaction?

Dr. Wolf: Itching and swelling are key signs. Hay fever causes the nasal passages to swell, which leads to an itchy and runny nose, congestion, watery eyes and/or sinus pressure. An allergic reaction to food is more likely to result in hives and/or puffy skin.

Q. How can I ease my child’s symptoms?

Dr. Wolf: In most situations, over-the-counter antihistamine medication provides quick and effective relief. If symptoms persist or interfere with your child’s daily routine, make an appointment at Comer Children’s Hospital.

Q. When should we go to the emergency room?

Dr. Wolf: If your child has trouble breathing, he/she should go to an emergency room by ambulance. Other warning signs of severe allergic reaction include difficulty talking or swallowing, rapid swelling (particularly in the head and neck), and/or excessive vomiting.

Q. What triggers should my child avoid?

Dr. Wolf: Our physicians and nurses perform allergy testing to identify each child’s triggers and create a customized care plan to eliminate or reduce symptoms. In general, dust mites and mold are the most common environmental allergens found in the home. Mites can be avoided through the use of hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers.

Q. Anything else?

Dr. Wolf: If your child is allergic to pet dander, the best approach is to remove the animal. If that is not possible it may be helpful to bathe any furry pets once a week. Your child should also avoid foods that have caused a reaction in the past.

Q. What does my child’s school need to know?

Dr. Wolf: Be sure teachers and school administrators are aware of any food allergies. Any medication that your child requires should be made available. We have helped schools screen kids for asthma and allergies.

Q. Why do pediatric allergies occur?

Dr. Wolf: Allergies are an incorrect response by the body’s immune system. They occur when a child’s immune system produces an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE), instead of normal defense protein. Although there isn’t a way to correct this process, we can help control symptoms with proper medication.

Q. What therapies currently are available?

Dr. Wolf: Antihistamines are the most commonly used medication for allergies. They work by blocking the chemical that causes itching and swelling. Steroids are another option for controlling an allergic reaction. We typically use them in small doses inside a child’s nose, on his/her skin and/or in the lungs. Our team will work with your family to create a custom care plan.

If your child has allergies, or you think that he/she should be tested, please call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200 to schedule an appointment. To learn more, visit

Comer Children’s Hospital Celebrates 10th Anniversary

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