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Will Immunotherapy Reduce My Child’s Allergies…Is It Worth It?

Allergy shotsImmunotherapy is a series of injections that helps build the body’s immunity to substances that trigger allergy symptoms. Each shot contains a tiny amount of the offending allergen. Over time, your immune system builds up a tolerance, which means that those sniffles and watery eyes lessen or even disappear.

Since immunotherapy is a commitment — the entire course takes years — it’s recommended for people who have multiple allergies and suffer from symptoms at least three months out of the year. Speak with your pediatrician about your child. Most doctors, including myself, advise that children should be at least 5 years of age to start allergy shots.

If your child is a candidate, consider whether or not you’d be able to take him to the doctor’s office regularly. He’ll need to get shots once a week for several months, and then once a month or so for two to five more years.

Next, check in with your insurance company. Most cover immunotherapy, but some have a yearly maximum or deductible. It’s important to have a clear idea of what’s covered before you begin treatment.

The good news:

  • 85 to 95 percent of patients experience a significant improvement in their allergy symptoms.
  • And for most, those benefits last for life.
  • What’s more, immunotherapy will protect your child from developing allergy-induced asthma and other types of allergies.

Has anyone in your family tried immunotherapy? Did it work?

What’s the Best Way to Treat Your Child’s Bee Sting?

The best way to treat a bee sting is to avoid bees in the first place, so stay away from hives or other areas that you know shelter bees. Brightly colored clothing, perfumes, sugary foods and sugary beverages also attract bees, so avoid these lures when you’re outside.

If your child is stung, the key is to stay calm. Kids are usually frightened and defensive, so it’s essential for you as the parent to take control before you can help.

If the stinger is visible, remove it to get rid of the source of the pain-inducing venom. Most people instinctively use tweezers or try to squeeze the stinger out, but flicking it off with a credit card works best to avoid squeezing more poison into the wound.

Once the stinger is removed, wash the area with soap and water. Apply an ice pack to help reduce swelling and numb the pain; a topical antihistamine cream can also alleviate any other unpleasant symptoms.

Some children are severely allergic to bee stings, and unfortunately you usually don’t discover this until the first time they’re stung. If your child complains of pain outside the sting region, if she has difficulty breathing, or if you notice a rash covering her body, she may be experiencing anaphylaxis, which can be a life-threatening allergic reaction. Call 911 immediately.

Help Your Little Allergy Sufferer Breathe Easier This Season

AllergiesFor many kids, this time of year can be frustrating. They want to run outside and play, but the pollen count leaves them sniffling, sneezing and wheezing. What can you do to help? By minimizing their exposure to triggers, providing them with relief and offering some creative distractions, you can still make allergy season fun for the whole family.

Protect Them

There are a few simple things that can be implemented daily to reduce or prevent exposure to environmental allergens.

  • Check your filters. Pollen and spores can get trapped in air conditioning filters, so set a specific day each month — like the day you pay bills — to change them.
  • Schedule indoor activities. On days that the pollen count is significant (check the count here), keep kids inside during the early morning and dusk, when the air has the most allergens. Have fun games and projects in place.
  • Do an outfit change. When kids come in from outside or come home from school, have them change their clothes immediately and wash off any residual pollen from their faces and hands.

Provide Relief

Allergy flare-ups are inevitable, so it is helpful to keep a few tricks in your parenting toolbox.

  • Try saline solution. It can safely rid eyes and nasal cavities of allergens. (Just remember to keep a box of tissues on hand for the post-application drip.)
  • Draw a warm bath. It can provide soothing relief to itchy skin, and the steam may relieve congestion.
  • See your pediatrician. Check to see if a prescription or OTC medication can provide relief during the worst of the season.

Include Them

Kids live in the here and now, so trying to explain a concept like allergies can be difficult. In order for them to understand and take ownership of their allergies, involve them in the solution-making process.

  • Ask for suggestions. After identifying specific issues — for instance, the pollen on shoes or higher count on windy days — ask your child to think of ways to combat the problems. He might suggest leaving a shoe bin at the door or closing windows in gusty weather.
  • Assign a responsibility. After realizing weather plays a large role in the impact of allergens, your child can become the family’s meterologist. Every evening, have him report the next day’s weather, so you can prep together.
  • Encourage him to share. Telling their friends why they can’t play outside at certain times can help empower your kids — and makes the situation feel less frustrating.

Distract Them

  • Dress up their tissues. With so much sneezing and sniffling, a box of tissues will become a staple for your children. Have your child personalize the box with paint, glitter or stickers so it seems more fun.
  • Build a fort. If your kids are stuck inside, make them a special place: Build an elaborate fort with sheets, blankets and furniture. This can be their haven for storytelling, homework and imaginative play.
  • Schedule outings. Suffering from spring fever? Have your child choose a special place, like the mall, museum or gym, once a week. This will give him something to look forward to during allergy season.

5 Simple Steps to Relieve Your Child’s Hay Fever Symptoms

AllergiesSniffling, sneezing, puffy eyes — kids’ hay fever misery can be the first sign of spring. Up to 40 percent of all children struggle with allergic rhinitis, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). That’s the proper name for the upper respiratory symptoms caused by either year-round allergens (like mold or pet fur) or seasonal allergens (like pollen, which multiplies and becomes airborne in warmer weather).

Medication can help manage your child’s hay fever symptoms, but the best remedy is to nip those allergies in the bud. “Once the bad symptoms start, it takes less and less pollen to exacerbate the whole vicious cycle,” says Neeta Ogden, M.D., an adult and pediatric allergist at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey. Here are a few steps you can take to ease your kid’s hay fever symptoms:

Step No. 5 to Ease Hay Fever Symptoms: Fend off fresh air.

Keep windows shut from early morning to late afternoon, when pollen counts are at their peak. Change filters in your air-conditioning units and vents frequently. Keep car windows up and your vehicle’s air-conditioning on the “closed system” setting so air recirculates instead of coming in from outside.

Step No. 4 to Ease Hay Fever Symptoms: Check pollen counts.

Log on to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website for a daily update. When the numbers are high, take extra precautions, such as asking your child’s school to keep her indoors during recess.

Step No. 3 to Ease Hay Fever Symptoms: Keep the house clean.

Despite your best efforts to keep allergens out, they will still find their way inside — and onto just about every surface. Extra vacuuming and dusting can help, along with regularly washing your child’s bedding. Wipe down pets and keep them out of your child’s bedroom and off of the furniture.

Step No. 2 to Ease Hay Fever Symptoms: Strip ’em down.

As soon as your child enters the house after spending significant time outside (and before she gets anywhere near her bedroom), peel off her pollen-laden clothes and toss them into a plastic bag until they’re ready to go into the wash. Have her shower and shampoo immediately.

Step No. 1 to Ease Hay Fever Symptoms: Get a jump on medication.

If your child takes preventive allergy medications, she should start taking them well in advance of warmer weather. Since kids’ bodies can change dramatically from year to year, visit the allergist to be sure the medication and dosage is appropriate. “Don’t wait until the last minute. Make it routine to see your allergist in late February or early March,” says Ogden.

From medication to spring-cleaning, early precautions can keep hay fever symptoms at bay — or at least to a minimum.

It’s Fall: What Can I Expect As Far As My Child’s Allergies?

fall allergies - runny noses and itchy eyesWe are currently in the middle of the allergy season created by ragweed. We had thought we had made it through the spring and summer allergy season with our immune system health in good shape when all of a sudden it seems to return with a vengeance: watery, itchy eyes, constantly clear runny itchy nose, clearing your throat and trying in vain to scratch the back part of your palate with the back of your tongue. Here we are again, but in the spring/ summer seasons this was due to trees and grass. Every season has its own list of usual suspects to create allergy symptoms.

The end of summer and beginning of fall sees the end of the ragweed season and the onset of more indoor things to spark the symptoms of allergy. When families start to close up their homes for the colder weather to come, many allergens are trapped indoors such as molds and dust. Many people are allergic to just these factors, made worse by the onset of school and the ability of children to begin bring home the “bug of the week”. Colds become more frequent and the onset of asthmatic symptoms add to the coughs, runny noses and itchiness, along with such factors as spending more time indoors with your furry pets. The leaves are beginning to fall and the wind is beginning to whip the leaves around and fragment them causing a different kind of dust.

Added to that, as families begin to turn the heat on in their homes, two things happen; all the dust that has collected in the ducts now is blown into the indoor environment to mix with all the other allergens and the indoor air begins to dry out. This potpourri of particles is just about everywhere, just waiting to irritate your respiratory tract if you happen to have allergies.

The symptoms of allergic problems do not necessarily change with the seasons and probably the same medications your Doctor recommended in the Spring will also be effective, but if you have difficulty controlling the problem, get in touch with your healthcare provider – they can help you make sure your children are not bothered with these symptoms in school.

Your Child Has Summer Sniffles …Is It a Cold or Allergy?

child sneezing during the summerSummer time is the time for fun and family enjoyment. The early and late parts of summer are, however, noticeable for stirring up allergic symptoms due to grass and trees in May and June and such plants as ragweed during August and September. Symptoms such as burning, itching eyes and runny, itchy nose with or without cough are typical symptoms of environmental allergies. There is no fever as this is not an infection. Symptoms of a summer cold however can mimic those of allergy, but usually itching is not a major part.

A cold, or upper respiratory infection, is, as the name implies an infection by viral agents that usually invade through mucus membranes (inside of nose, mouth or eyes), set up shop and multiply to some extent. The multiplication is usually self-limited as the body’s natural defense systems go to work. When the defenses are working, there may be fever, achiness, headache and a variety of other minor symptoms. Allergic symptoms do not usually include the systemic symptoms mentioned above.

Unfortunately sometimes, cold and allergy symptoms occur simultaneously, causing some confusion among parents, patients and Doctors in terms of diagnosis. Sometimes, also, it is impossible to tell them apart even to the most trained eye.

The bottom line is even though there may be no telling them apart, there is no cure for the common cold, and the combined symptoms can be treated similarly.

If a child has known environmental allergy, he/she may be treated with an antihistamine such as Benadryl for short term (4 – 6 hrs) or Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra for long term (once or twice every 24hrs) for the symptoms; no response may indicate a cold and not allergy, while the concurrent symptoms of fever, achiness, headache and others may strengthen the diagnosis of a cold.

Certainly it is worthwhile to use a humidifier in his or her room to moisten irritated mucous membranes, drink plenty of fluids, and use Tylenol or Advil in the appropriate dosages for poorly tolerated symptoms. Important to note that controlling fever with the use of these medications is not necessary unless your child is very uncomfortable. Using these medications will not get rid of the fever in the long run, but it will make him or her feel more comfortable in the short term. The fever, remember, is there because the body is fighting off the infection and therefore is a relatively good sign in a healthy child. The fever will persist until the cleansing process is finished.

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