From The Beginning
Allergies and Chemical Sensitivities


For more than twenty-five years, Doris Rapp, MD, has been treating children whose lives have been hampered — sometimes critically — by allergies and chemical sensitivities. Everyone knows about the role of allergies in problems such as asthma and hay fever, but very few people are aware of the staggering variety and extent of the illnesses triggered by allergic responses and sensitivities to substances of various kinds, natural and (increasingly) unnatural. Dr. Rapp knows, and has probably done more than any other person to make the general public more able to understand and cope with allergies of all kinds. She has stepped back for now from her incredibly demanding private practice, but is as active as ever in trying to spread understanding of and effective responses to allergies.

Dr. Rapp, whose appearance on the Donahue show several years ago brought the largest response in the show's history (140,000 letters!), and whose subsequent book on children's allergies, Is This Your Child?, has been a best-seller for many years, distills vital information into simple suggestions for dealing with the complexities of allergies. You can get some of them by clicking on the first five entries below. We suggest looking at them in sequence.

Making The First Connection. How to go about discovering an allergy.

Some Frequent Causes of Specific Complaints. Common food and other agents linked to congestion, gastric troubles, fatigue, depression, asthma, hyperactivity, and other problems.

What Else Can You Do To Help Detect Why Your Child Is Ill? Things to watch for.

What You Can Do After You Detect Cause And Effect. Simple next steps.

Going Deeper. Books and video tapes by Dr. Rapp and others about environmental allergies. (Including an important new video tape on indoor air quality in schools.)

Dr. Rapp's Suggestions on Dealing with Allergies



Some children have unsuspected forms of allergy which commonly cause recurrent symptoms from infancy through childhood and beyond. Many of these children look allergic.

Allergic Appearance: Nose wrinkle from rubbing nose upwards; bouts of sneezing; circles (dark blue, black, or pink) under the eyes; wrinkles below the lower eyelids; swollen upper eyelids; bags below the eyes; glassy, glazed eyes associated with sudden behavior changes; red earlobes; red cheeks; open mouth and dry lips from breathing through the mouth; wiggly legs; marked abdominal distention; dry skin, wrinkled palms; rash in the crease of the arms or legs, or near the ankles, or in round patches on the body.


Behavior Changes: Dislike of being held, hugged or touched; reluctance to get dressed or to keep clothing on; crawling under furniture or in dark corners; intermittent difficulty in writing, drawing, or even speaking; extreme negativity; racing about; bouncing up and down; inability to sit through a meal, story, or TV program; extreme drowsiness or overactivity after eating; sudden unexplained aggression; problems getting to sleep or staying asleep; nightmares. School performance can be far below a child's ability. Some children feel unloved and say they want to die.


If the following complaints are associated with an allergic appearance, and a child has allergic relatives, that child's ill health or activity or learning problems may well be due to an unrecognized allergy. Typical age-related symptoms include:

In Infancy: Prolonged screaming and crying; intestinal complaints (colic, diarrhea, constipation, excess spitting up, vomiting), non-stop need to be fed; inability to sleep; head-banging; crib rocking; reluctance to be cuddled; infrequent smiling; irritability; recurrent ear infections; congested nose or chest; eczema; excessive drooling; extreme perspiration.

In Toddlers: Temper tantrums; intestinal complaints; leg aches, earaches; hyperactivity; behavior problems; fatigue; stuffy nose; throat-clearing; chronic cough; asthma; headaches; crawling in dark corners; refusal to be touched.

In Children: Hayfever; clucking throat sounds; asthma; headaches; leg aches; intestinal complaint (diarrhea, constipation; sudden mood and behavior changes (hyperactivity, fatigue, depression, irritability, aggression), erratic school performance or inability to write or draw; hives; eczema; recurrent infections; bedwetting after age five.

Copyright (C) 1990, Doris Rapp, M.D.
Dr. Rapp's Suggestions on Dealing with Allergies

Next: Some Frequent Causes of Specific Complaints.

From The Beginning index