A young girl trying not to sneeze next to a plant that causes her pediatric allergies

Living in Alaska offers a unique set of joys and challenges. The breathtaking scenery
and close-knit communities make it a wonderful place to raise a family. However,
when it comes to allergies, Alaska presents its own specific set of obstacles for
parents and children. From the long stretches of snow cover to the abundance of
birch trees, the Alaskan environment has a distinct impact on how allergies manifest.

Allergies are surprisingly common in children. When a child’s immune system
overreacts to harmless substances (known as allergens), it can trigger a range of
uncomfortable symptoms. Understanding the types of allergens prevalent in Alaska,
as well as the signs of pediatric allergies, is the first step towards effective
management and helping your child thrive in our beautiful state.

Common Allergens in Alaska

Alaskan children must contend with a mix of outdoor and indoor allergens.
Understanding these triggers can help you take proactive steps to minimize
your child’s exposure.

Outdoor Allergens

  • Pollen: Trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen, tiny particles that can
    trigger allergy symptoms. Birch trees are a major source of pollen in
    Alaska, causing significant issues for allergy sufferers in the spring.
  • Grasses: Different types of grasses pollinate throughout the summer,
    extending the allergy season in Alaska.
  • Snow Mold: A unique challenge during the Alaskan winter, snow mold
    is a type of fungus that grows beneath snow cover. When the snow
    melts, mold spores are released into the air, potentially aggravating

Indoor Allergens

  • Dust Mites: These microscopic creatures thrive in warm, humid
    environments. Dust mites are commonly found in bedding, carpets,
    and upholstered furniture.
  • Pet Dander: Pet dander, consisting of tiny skin flakes, and saliva can
    trigger allergies in sensitive children.
  • Mold: Mold can grow in damp areas of the home, such as bathrooms,
    basements, and areas with leaks.

Knowing the types of allergens that are prevalent in Alaska is the first step in
managing your child’s allergies. In the next section, we’ll cover the tell-tale
signs and symptoms of pediatric allergies.

Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Allergies

Pediatric allergies can present themselves in a variety of ways, making it
important for parents to be aware of the common signs and symptoms.
Here’s what to watch for:

  • Respiratory Issues:
    • Runny nose, sneezing, and congestion
    • Itchy, watery eyes
    • Coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath
  • Skin Reactions:
    • Eczema (red, itchy, dry skin)
    • Hives (raised, itchy welts)
  • Digestive Upset: Less common but possible, especially with food
    allergies. Watch out for:

    • Stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Severe allergic reactions
(anaphylaxis) can be life-threatening and require immediate medical

It’s important to remember that these symptoms can also be caused by other
conditions, such as a cold or the flu. If your child exhibits persistent allergy-like
symptoms, it’s important to consult with a pediatrician for proper diagnosis
and treatment.

Diagnosing Pediatric Allergies

Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial for managing your child’s allergies
effectively. If you suspect your child is suffering from allergies, it’s essential to
consult a pediatrician. They can help determine the specific triggers and
develop a personalized treatment plan.

Here are some of the methods your pediatrician might use to diagnose

  • Medical History: Your pediatrician will ask detailed questions about
    your child’s symptoms, when they occur, and any potential triggers
    you’ve noticed.
  • Skin Prick Testing: This common allergy test involves placing a tiny
    amount of various allergens on the skin. A small prick or scratch
    introduces the allergen. If your child is allergic, a raised bump (like a
    mosquito bite) will appear within about 15 minutes.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests can measure the levels of IgE antibodies in
    your child’s blood. IgE antibodies are produced by the immune system
    in response to allergens.

Remember, allergy testing should always be performed under the supervision
of a healthcare professional. They can interpret the results and guide you on
the next steps for managing your child’s allergies.

Treatment and Management of Pediatric Allergies

While allergies can’t always be entirely cured, there are effective ways to
manage symptoms and improve your child’s quality of life. Treatment options
will depend on the severity of your child’s allergies and the specific triggers
involved. Here’s a breakdown of common approaches:

  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Antihistamines can help alleviate
    sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Decongestants can provide relief
    from nasal congestion.
  • Prescription Medications: For more severe symptoms, your
    pediatrician may prescribe stronger medications, such as nasal steroid
    sprays or oral antihistamines.
  • Allergy Immunotherapy: This long-term treatment involves exposing
    your child to small, increasing amounts of the allergen over time with a
    series of injections. The goal is to reduce their immune system’s

It’s essential to work closely with your pediatrician to develop a personalized
treatment plan. They will consider your child’s specific allergies, symptoms,
and overall health to determine the most effective course of action.

Prevention and Lifestyle Tips

While it’s impossible to completely eliminate your child’s exposure to
allergens, there are steps you can take to minimize their impact and manage
symptoms effectively.

Tips for Reducing Allergen Exposure

  • Monitor Pollen and Mold Counts: Check online resources or local news
    for pollen and mold counts. Limit outdoor playtime when counts are
  • Keep Windows Closed: This is especially important during peak pollen
    seasons. Use air conditioning with a HEPA filter, if possible.
  • Wash Bedding Frequently: Dust mites thrive in bedding. Wash sheets,
    blankets, and pillowcases in hot water weekly.
  • Use HEPA Air Filters: HEPA air filters can trap allergens like dust mites,
    pet dander, and pollen indoors.
  • Bathe Pets Regularly: This reduces the amount of dander in your

Strategies for Managing Food Allergies

  • Read Food Labels Carefully: Check ingredient lists for potential
  • Educate Caregivers and Teachers: Make sure your child’s school,
    daycare, and other caregivers are aware of their allergies and have a
    plan in place.
  • Carry Emergency Medications: Always have epinephrine
    auto-injectors (if prescribed) and other emergency medications readily

By taking these steps, you can help your child live a healthy and active life,
even with allergies.


Allergies can pose a challenge for Alaskan children, but with proper
knowledge and management, they don’t have to hold your child back. By
understanding the common triggers, recognizing the symptoms, and
working with a pediatrician to develop a personalized treatment plan, you can
help your child thrive.

Remember, proactive allergy management is key to improving your child’s
quality of life. If you suspect your child might be suffering from allergies, don’t
hesitate to seek professional help.

The Anchorage pediatricians at LaTouche Pediatrics is dedicated to providing
comprehensive pediatric allergy care. We offer personalized treatment plans,
allergy testing, and ongoing support. Contact us today to schedule an
appointment and start exploring ways to manage your child’s allergies