Allergies in Children

Allergies in Children

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    In addition to invading your pillows and blankets, dust mites also make their home within the fur of all of those stuffed animals your kids love to snuggle. If your child has significant allergies or any type of wheezing or asthma, non-washable stuffed animals should be off-limits. Dusty stuffed animals can trigger an asthma attack or cause uncomfortable allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose and itchy eyes. And any time your child is exposed to those dusty stuffed animals, his asthma or wheezing can actually become worse or more chronic. If you want your child to breathe easy, make sure that any stuffed animals he owns are washable -- and then throw them in the washing machine once a week. After all, if your child can’t breathe, nothing else matters.

    If your child doesn’t have allergies or has only rare bouts of milder allergies and no regular bouts of wheezing, you can be a bit more lenient about letting him have nonwashable stuffed animals. However, you should be aware that the dust in the stuffed animals might be contributing to your child’s occasional misery. And continual exposure to allergens can make a mild case of allergies worse. If your child’s bouts with allergies increase or he starts wheezing more often, you should reconsider your decision to let him have nonwashable stuffed animals.

    Here are a few other hints to keep in mind with regard to nonwashable stuffed animals.
    • Give the animals a “vacation” when your child has a cold or seems particularly allergy-prone. Put the animals in a plastic bag in another room, and give your child a few washable stuffed animals to play with. If your child’s symptoms redevelop when you give the stuffed animals back, consider phasing out the nonwashable stuffed animals. Move most of them out of the child’s room while you make the transition from nonwashable stuffed animals to washable ones.
    • Don’t keep hordes of stuffed animals on your child’s bed or stashed in his room.
    • Try frequently vacuuming the stuffed animals to decrease the number of dust mites.
    • Dust mites like normal household temperatures and humidity. To reduce their humidity and raise their temperature, tumble the stuffed animals in your clothes dryer weekly. Check with the manufacturer beforehand to make sure you won’t ruin the toys.

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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    The following intranasal steroids (INS) are used to treat allergic rhinitis symptoms in children:

    • budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua): prescription, 6 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose
    • fluticasone (Flonase): prescription, 4 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose
    • triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ): prescription, 6 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose
    • mometasone (Nasonex): prescription, 2 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose
    • beclomethasone (Beconase): prescription, 6 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose
    • fluticasone (Veramyst): prescription, 12 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose
    • ciclesonide (Omnaris): prescription, 6 years plus; nasal congestion, watery nose

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends allowing INS in younger patients for short periods of time, as for seasonal allergic rhinitis.
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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    If a child's allergy is not properly treated it could lead to poor sleeping, runny nose, dry skin -- these are among the precursors to allergies in children that will escalate over the years. Moreover, they are so common that many times they will not even lead to a trip to the doctor. Instead, parents will live with the symptoms or treat them either with over-the-counter medications like Benadryl that may have sedating effects (which can't help his performance in school), or with folk remedies, but the child may be more sensitive than they can cope with. The result is misery for the child and sympathetic suffering -- frequently compounded by guilt -- for the parents.
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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    The very low humidity on airplanes combined with changes in cabin pressure can wreak havoc on tear ducts and sinuses, both of which play a role in staving off allergic attacks. Moreover, there's the danger of exposure to airborne germs as air recirculates. Protect your child's defenses with regular saline irrigation before you take off and while aloft. Make him drink plenty of liquids, too.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Eating local honey -- the unpasteurized kind -- may help decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies related to local plants. Like allergy shots, this low-level exposure to local allergens can stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. Note: Never feed a child under one year of age honey because it may contain botulism spores, which produce toxins that cause a potentially lethal reaction.
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    Can being an only child increase my risk of allergy?
    Children who who have many siblings appear to be protected against developing allergies. In this video, Jessica Savage, MD, Clinical & Laboratory Immunologist at Brigham and Women's hospital discusses the hygiene hypothesis and allergies.
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    This is a good question, because symptoms of pediatric allergies are often confused with symptoms of common pediatric ear, nose and throat conditions. Often, children diagnosed with frequent cold or sinus infections are actually suffering from allergies. Allergies can also contribute to common pediatric problems such as ear infections. Because allergies will typically present in childhood, it is crucial to have your child evaluated by a doctor trained to recognize these symptoms.

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    A Pediatrics, answered on behalf of
    In children, allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the clear membranes covering the white of the eye and the inner side of the eyelid) causes itchy eyes and nasal symptoms, including a runny nose and stuffiness.  This type of inflammation is usually accompanied by a recent exposure to allergens such as cats, dogs, dust or pollen. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is treatable. Children who suffer from allergies or have a family history of hay fever, asthma or eczema are prone to allergic conjunctivitis.
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    A answered
    When children who are allergic come in contact with allergens, their bodies release chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against them. It’s the release of these chemicals that causes the discomfort of allergy symptoms.
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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    Allergic children, parents, and GPs, pediatricians, and allergists all are partners in treating allergy. To this list we should add another partner - your child's body - because sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own, and sometimes, if properly trained, it can do a better job of treating your child than the rest of us can. Because the mechanisms of allergy have survived millennia of "progress," we have a good deal to gain by trying to use the body's own resources to reduce its capacity to attack itself, or to remove, as much as possible, its excuses for doing so.

    Someone who has thought this through very clearly, and has written and spoken on the subject quite eloquently, is Nancy Sander of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), the nonprofit clearing house and national learning center. Asthmatic herself and mother of asthmatic children, Nancy is a tireless advocate on the subject. What she says about asthma could easily be applied to your child's health with a little editing:

    "Take a moment to write a thank you letter to your airways for working so hard even when inflamed and swollen. Thank the bronchial muscles wrapped around the airways for straining to keep the airways open despite mucous plugs and excess fluid oozing from ruptured cells lining the surface.

    Let your mind reflect on all the many ways your airways serve you despite the abuse they take every time you go out with that handsome guy who smokes cigars. Appreciate the cilia lining the airways that sweep trapped dust, cat dander, and pollen-laden mucus particles up and out of the airways into your throat where you cough them up or swallow them down. Validate the mucus for trapping foreign invaders so they can't clog the air sacs and kill you.

    Doing this exercise is more than therapeutic. It puts your mind in a receptive, appreciative, more powerful mode. When you learn about asthma, breathing, and your immune system, you stop thinking about the disease and start focusing on being good to your body. Suddenly, allergy-proofing the home isn't a chore or punishment; it's a healthier choice.

    We can't change the fact that we have asthma, but we can change how we think about it and the way we treat ourselves. The more you know about asthma and treatment options, the more likely you'll make good choices and shorten the learning curve between where you are now and where you want to be."