Coping with Your Child's Allergies
Allergies can come in many forms and can affect children year-round. Children not only develop allergies similar to those of their parents, but they are MORE prone to seasonal, pet and food allergies.
If your child is affected by seasonal allergies, they would experience symptoms in the spring, summer and fall months. Spring and summer bring on hay fever symptoms from airborne pollens from trees, grass and weeds. Ragweed and leaf mold allergies occur, for the most part, in fall.
Identify seasonal allergies by the following symptoms:
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Watery and/or itchy eyes
- Sinus headaches
You always want to discuss your child's allergies with a physician; however, most seasonal allergies can be treated with antihistamines and decongestants.
Approximately 9 percent of all children have some form of a food allergy; most will outgrow them. The most common foods to cause food allergies are:
For children with life-threatening food allergies, it is critical to have an individual emergency plan documented and easily accessible to everyone at school, including temporary staff and substitute teachers. This can mean the difference between life and death for your child. The best way to do that is to have this information on the child in the form of a medical ID.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction range from tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the lips, diarrhea, excessive crying, cramping and nausea to vomiting, diarrhea, hives, itching, dizziness and wheezing. It is important to be aware that these kinds of allergies can be life-threatening.
If you have reason to believe that your child has experienced a similar reaction to food, speak with your child's pediatric provider or allergist as soon as possible.
The Allergy-Asthma Connection
When your child has allergies, asthma can become an issue. Asthma is a condition in which the bronchial tubes become inflamed and it becomes difficult to carry air to the lungs.
The inflammation starts slowly, but in time, can cause the blocking or narrowing of the tubes, making it more difficult to breathe. This is called an acute asthma episode, an asthma attack, flare-up or exacerbation. To treat an asthma attack, you use bronchodialators, or inhaled steriods.
During an asthma attack, when minutes count, it is critical for everyone on the scene to understand the nature of the attack and the location of lifesaving equipment. Unfortunately, that information is not always clearly evident.
As always, do work with your child's physician to develop a treatment plan and an asthma action plan.
Pet allergies are most often caused by the allergens shed through your pets dander, which is then carried in the pets urine proteins and saliva. Contrary to common belief, pet allergies are not usually caused by the breed of the pet or the hair of the animal.
Pet allergens can become trapped in your furniture and your carpets and remain there for weeks.
The symptoms of pet allergies include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Rash or Hives
If your child suffers from a pet allergy, experts say controlling the allergy is best accomplished by total avoidance of the animal. If you refuse to part with an animal, it is important that you do your best to control the allergens by keeping pet beds and litter boxes clean, as well as bathing your animal regularily. Recommendation from most medical experts is to put your child first and rid yourself of any risk.
Keep the animal out of your childs bedroom and teach your child to wash his or her hands immediately after coming into contact with the animal.
You could also install a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) air purifier to help remove pet dander from your home.
And, again, there are medications such as antihistamines and decongestants to help relieve your child's symptoms. Nasal corticosteroid sprays prevent and relieve allergy signs and symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy, runny nose. These medications are much less likely to cause side effects than are oral corticosteroids. Desloratadine (Generic Clarinex) is often used to treat children for allergy symtptoms 6 months and older and seasonal allergy symptoms in patients 2 years and older.
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