Allergic rhinitis – usually simply called “allergies” – is a chronic illness resulting in stuffy, runny nose, nasal congestion. Itchy, burning eyes and general low energy are often associated. You know all that, or you wouldn’t be reading this, right? It is estimated that allergic rhinitis affects nearly 50 Million Americans. Over half of those with sinus disease have a history of allergic rhinitis, and it is estimated that close to 95% of those with asthma have rhinitis. Your child may have both too.
The good news – allergies CAN be controlled.
Allergies are often co-morbid with asthma and sinusitis. That is, they occur together. The severity and frequency of allergies vary with the region you live in, but can be a pretty big deal no matter where you are: Allergic rhinitis is the most prevalent chronic condition in children (below age 18). We know that nearly 40% of children miss school each year due to allergies.
Treat the Inflammation:
The good news is that allergic rhinitis can be controlled. Treating the underlying inflammation is the key to relieving symptoms, and to reducing co-morbidities.
Here are some suggestions to eliminate allergies from your child’s life:
- Learn the difference between symptoms of allergies and viral URI (common cold). These illnesses have many symptoms in common. But they are treated differently, so telling them apart is important:
- Get your child allergy-tested. Make an appointment to see an Allergist, preferably a Pediatric Allergist. Testing, and even simply meeting with the allergist, can often help identify the triggers for your child’s allergies. Identifying the triggers is the first step to eliminating them.
- Start an Allergy Diary or Log: record your child’s diet and activities so that you can relate their allergy symptoms back to their foods, where they were, and what they were doing. This will help identify their triggers. See the book, “Is This Your Child?” by Dr. Doris Rapp.
- Take a Holistic Approach: Become actively involved in your child’s Allergy Plan. Learn as much as you can about their triggers and begin eliminating those triggers from their lives. Don’t have a Plan? It’s time.
- Consider natural alternatives to common allergy medications. Anti-histamines introduce multiple potential issues for children, including drying effect on sinus secretions (bad for clearance), sleep problems, and behavioral problems.
Daily nasal saline rinses are guaranteed to reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
- Start eating LOCAL honey – it may help your immune system to tolerate the local pollens.
- Do everything you can to eliminate dust mites (see great link below in resources):
- Dust-proof bedding covers
- Launder bedding often, at high temperature
- Get rid of stuffed toys
- Get rid of carpets if possible
- Damp-dust surfaces
- Replace cloth-upholstered furniture with wood, plastic, or leather
- Limit humidifier use to nighttime, let the rooms dry out during day
- Ventilate bedrooms; don’t make the beds in order for them to air-out and dry out during the day.