Kern Health jul18 Asthma leader

Got the Sniffles and Sneezes? It's Probably Allergies

May is Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month and the American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for dealing with allergies and asthma in their “Allergies and Asthma: What Every Parent Needs to Know” guide.

According to the AAP, your child's allergy treatment should start with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric allergy specialist for additional evaluations and treatments, but in the meantime, here are some tips on how to treat your child's allergies:

Allergies feel like a cold, and can include headaches, runny noses, fatigue, and other symptoms that can get in the way of school, fun, and family time. Ask your pediatrician about medications to manage allergies. Common treatments include antihistamines, taken by mouth, which can help with itchy watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, as well as itchy skin and hives. Nasal corticosteroids are highly effective for allergy symptom control and widely used to stop chronic symptoms. They are generally safe to use in children over long periods of time, but must be used daily for maximal effectiveness.

Knowing what your child is allergic to can be an important step in finding the right treatment. Allergy testing may be performed to determine whether your child is allergic to any environmental allergens. Nasal allergy symptoms can be caused by a variety of environmental allergens including indoor allergens such as dust mites, pets, and pests, as well as outdoor allergens such as pollens. Molds, which can be found indoors and outdoors, can also trigger nasal allergy symptoms.  

An important step in managing allergy symptoms is avoidance of the allergens that trigger the symptoms. If your child has allergy symptoms and is allergic to a pet that lives in your home, you will want to keep the pet out of your child's bedroom and minimize contact as much as possible. 

If your child is allergic to pests in the home, professional extermination, sealing holes and cracks that serve as entry points for pests, storing foods in plastic containers with lids and meticulous cleanup of food remains can help to eliminate pests and reduce allergen levels.

Dust mites congregate where moisture is retained and food for them (human skin scales) is plentiful. They are especially numerous in bedding, upholstered furniture, and rugs. Padded furnishings such as mattresses, box springs, and pillows should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers, which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers. Wash linens weekly and other bedding, such as blankets, every 1 to 2 weeks in hot water. (The minimum temperature to kill mites is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you set your water heater higher than 120 degrees, the recommended temperature to avoid accidental scald burns, take care if young children are present in the home.)

If your child is allergic to outdoor allergens, it can be helpful to use air conditioners when possible. Showering or bathing at the end of the day to remove allergens from body surfaces and hair can also be helpful. For patients with grass pollen allergy, remaining indoors when grass is mowed and avoiding playing in fields of tall grass may be helpful during grass pollen season. Children with allergies to molds should avoid playing in piles of dead leaves in the fall. Pets tracking in and out of the house can also bring pollen and mold indoors.

Parents can also ask their child’s pediatrician about allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your child's allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are prescribed only for patients with confirmed allergy. If allergen avoidance and medications are not successful, allergy shots for treatment of respiratory allergies to pollens, dust mites, cat and dog dander, and molds can help decrease the need for daily medication.

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