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Allergies Specialist

Franconia Pediatrics

Monica Kharbanda, MD

Board Certified Pediatrician located in Alexandria, VA

If just one parent has allergies, your child has a 25% chance of developing allergies, too. Since allergies can lead to uncomfortable rashes, sneezing fits, and watery eyes, among other issues, board-certified pediatrician Monica Kharbanda, MD, provides comprehensive allergy care for children of all ages at Franconia Pediatrics in Alexandria, Virginia. Because some allergies can become life-threatening, it’s important to bring your child in to the clinic as soon as they start experiencing allergy symptoms. You can book an allergy exam online or by phone.

Allergies Q & A

What causes allergies?

While allergies are known for leading to cold- or flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose or coughing, you’re not actually sick. Instead, allergy symptoms develop because of an overreaction of your immune system.

Your immune system contains several specialized cells that seek out and destroy harmful invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. When allergies occur, your immune system starts identifying harmless particles as dangerous, as if they’re going to attack your body.

In response to identifying the harmless substance -- such as pet dander, mold, or nuts -- as an “invader,” your immune system releases histamine. 

This chemical dilates blood vessels and speeds up your heart rate, which are processes that boost blood flow and help bring specialized cells to the site of the “invader” (in this case the allergen). Histamine is responsible for causing all of those allergy-related symptoms your child may experience. 

What are the symptoms of allergies?

The symptoms your child experiences with allergies depend on which type of allergy they have. With food allergies like seafood, peanuts, or dairy, your child may experience swelling and tingling in their mouth, followed by diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, among other symptoms.

Environmental allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, or cigarette smoke, as well as insect stings, can lead to one or more symptoms such as:

  • Dry or wet cough that produces clear mucus
  • Chest tightness
  • Headache 
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue 
  • Itchiness
  • Rash 
  • Hives 

Severe allergies can lead to a condition called anaphylaxis with throat swelling and difficulty breathing that is a life-threatening emergency. Because allergies aren’t just uncomfortable but may be dangerous for your child’s health, Dr. Kharbanda encourages you to come in to Franconia Pediatrics if your child is experiencing any allergy-related symptoms. 

How does a pediatrician diagnose allergies?

Dr. Kharbanda provides on-site allergy testing at Franconia Pediatrics. Depending on your child’s age, the severity of symptoms, and health history, Dr. Kharbanda can incorporate allergy blood tests into your child’s routine wellness labs. 

Allergy blood tests identify allergen-specific antibodies in your child’s blood. This can be helpful for pinpointing allergies, especially if your child experiences symptoms during a particular season. 

If needed, Dr. Kharbanda can send your child’s results to an allergist to undergo additional testing and to get your child started on any necessary treatments, such as immunotherapy.

Franconia Pediatrics provides integrative pediatric allergy care. You can book your child’s evaluation through the website or you can call the office directly.