Parents in Action: Battling Allergies

There is no real cure for allergies, but it is possible to relieve symptoms. The only real way to cope with them is to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens. Parents must educate their kids early and often, not only about the allergy itself, but also about what reaction they will have if they consume or come into contact with the allergen. Informing any and all caregivers (childcare personnel, teachers, extended family members, parents of your child's friends, etc.) about your child's allergy is equally important.

- Keep family pets out of certain rooms, like your child's bedroom, and bathe them if necessary.
- Remove carpets or rugs from your child's room (hard floor surfaces don't collect dust as much as carpets do).
- Don't hang heavy drapes and get rid of other items that allow dust to accumulate.
- Clean frequently.
- Use special covers to seal pillows and mattresses if your child is allergic to dust mites.
- For kids allergic to pollen, keep the windows closed when the pollen season is at its peak, change their clothing after they've been outdoors, and don't let them mow the lawn.
- Keep kids who are allergic to mold away from damp areas, such as basements, and keep bathrooms and other mold-prone areas clean and dry.

If reducing exposure isn't possible or is ineffective, medications may be prescribed, including antihistamines (which you can also buy over the counter) and inhaled or nasal spray steroids.  In some cases, an allergist may recommend immunotherapy (allergy shots) to help desensitize your child. However, allergy shots are only helpful for allergens such as dust, mold, pollens, animals, and insect stings. They're not used for food allergies, and someone with food allergies must avoid that food.

For more information visit www.kidshealth.org or www.tbparenting.com .
 

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