I think my son might have an allergy.

My son is 7yrs old and whenever he plays outside or runs around he starts coughing badly. It's a dry irritating cough. What kind of allergy is it and how can this be cured?

13 February 2014

It’s quite possible that your son has asthma. We traditionally think of asthma as causing wheeze and shortness of breath, but in young children in particular the main symptom can be coughing.

Symptoms can also be brought on by sudden changes in temperature, exercise, having a cold or being exposed to things you’re allergic to (such as dust or pollen). Factors that make it more likely in a child that symptoms are due to asthma include having symptoms just at certain situations (after exercise, exposure to pets or cold weather); having symptoms just at night or in the early mornings; having a history of eczema, hay fever or food allergy; or a family history of asthma or any of these ‘atopic’ conditions.

It’s important to realise that asthma and other allergic conditions can’t be ‘cured’ but that symptoms can definitely be controlled.

In the first instance, I would recommend that you see your GP and explain these symptoms. He will examine your child and can discuss treatment options. Your child may be old enough to use a machine called a peak flow meter, which measures how fast he can blow air out. If he can, your doctor may give you a peak flow meter to take home so that he can measure his peak flow regularly, including after exercise. Otherwise, if your doctor suspects asthma, the usual next step will be a trial of treatment with an inhaler. This inhaler contains a small dose of a medicine (usually salbutamol) which opens up the airways in the short term. It is very safe and widely used by children. Your doctor will then review your son to see how his symptoms respond.

Answered by Dr Sarah Jarvis.


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