Back to School with Allergies
The end of summer is quickly approaching and as you prepare your child for class, it is important to also prepare them for potential allergy triggers that may present during the school year. Although some may have more severe consequences than others, food allergies, insect allergies and environmental allergies are manageable with avoidance, medication and in some cases, allergy shots.
If your child has a known food or stinging insect allergy, it imperative to be sure that the school is prepared to handle a reaction if one were to occur. Accidental exposure can be life-threatening, therefore make sure that an EpiPen is available in the classroom or with the school nurse and that your child, teacher or nurse is able to recognize when and how to use it. An ID bracelet that signifies what he/she is allergic to can also be very helpful.
Environmental allergies may seem difficult to avoid, and whether they are true allergens or irritants, exposure can cause symptoms such as cough, congestion, runny nose, or itchy, watery eyes. Some common triggers in the classroom and on the playground include dust mites, chalk dust, pet dander, tree pollen, grass pollen, molds and weeds. You want to be sure your child has a medication routine as compliancy will help control symptoms even if they are exposed to these things. A daily non-drowsy antihistamine, may be recommended and depending on the severity or frequency of symptoms, other prescription medications such as nose sprays are also helpful.
Keep up to speed with current pollen counts in the area through our website or the National Allergy Bureau so that preventative measures can be taken when these levels are high. Some ways to prevent exposure include keeping windows closed when indoors or showering upon arrival at home to wash the pollen off. In some cases, it is difficult to control your child’s symptoms even with medications and avoidance. Allergy shots, known as “allergen immunotherapy”, is an alternative treatment which involves regular injections that will help the immune system become more resistant to what is causing their symptoms.
If your child’s allergy symptoms continue for months at a time or are affecting his/her quality of life, this can in turn affect their ability to pay attention or learn while class is in session. Our experience staff at Watkins Allergy and Asthma Clinic will be able to evaluate your child’s symptoms with appropriate testing and provide a treatment plan tailored to what they are allergic to as well as educational information to help manage these symptoms.