There are many reasons why a child may feel tired. As an allergy specialist, I try to explore all possibilities. Allergies can be intense and affect different children in different ways. If you suspect that they are the main cause behind your child's lethargy, take him to an allergy specialist.
Histamine is a chemical substance produced by mast cells and is one of the many substances released during allergic reactions. These can often cause itching, sneezing, swelling and other symptoms. If histamine is a factor in your child's lethargy, it could be due to the function of the inflammatory chemical in allergies, intolerance to histamine, to mastocytosis or to another medical condition.
If your child is showing signs of unusual fatigue, consult a pediatrician or allergist for diagnosis and treatment.
Allergies that cause wheezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing make many patients feel drowsy and foggy.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)
Allergies such as hay fever can be physically stressful. For example, the symptoms can keep you awake at night, which leads to drowsiness the next day. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology notes that allergies that cause wheezing, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing make many patients feel drowsy and foggy.
Symptoms can make you have trouble remembering things, focusing on daily tasks and making decisions. It is not surprising that the effect of the sum of all these symptoms may be prolonged irritability.
Another medical condition that binds histamine to fatigue is the disorder related to the diet of histamine intolerance. Some people lack an enzyme responsible for breaking down foods high in histamine. When they eat histamine-rich foods, they may suffer from allergy symptoms, such as a rash, itching and abdominal pain.
Foods that are high in histamine include:
• Seafood • Cheese • Tomatoes • Spinach
Cumulative histamine can produce a variety of symptoms. Laura Maintz and Natalija Novak's review "Histamine and Histamine Intolerance" in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gives a list of some of them:
• Headache • Diarrhea • Asthma • Hay fever and symptoms of eye allergies • Low blood pressure • Redness of the skin • Irregular heartbeats • Urticaria • Rash
Many of these symptoms, alone or in combination, are enough to produce fatigue in a child.
Histamine is also released by mast cells. These are components of the immune system and key players in allergic responses. Mast cells release histamine when they encounter substances that the immune system sees as foreign or threatening.
Mastocytosis is a condition in which a person has too many mast cells. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, symptoms of mastocytosis include:
• Itching • Pain affecting the muscles and bones • Abdominal discomfort • Ulcers • Nausea • Vomiting • Diarrhea
Symptoms of Mastocytosis can lead to exhaustion, especially in children.
About the author
Boyan Hadjiev, MD, has been practicing medicine for five years. It is double board certified in Internal Medicine, (2003) and Allergy and Immunology (2005).
Dr. Hadjiev graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in biology and an MD from the Cleveland Clinic-Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.