There’s one in every family. In mine, it is Shane. He’s the youngest by a minute and was the runt of the litter. Things just don’t go his way. He isn’t as charming as his brother, we can’t understand a word he says, and he seems to get banged up a lot. Shane’s cry sounds like a dying dinosaur, early on making me much more sympathetic to parents who shake their infants. He has eczema, a peanut allergy, and a constant runny nose. Because I am his mother, and because I will take heat from his godparents, I must add that he also has a contagious laugh, a beautiful face and a special place in my heart. I worry that life will always be a little harder for my little man. I am going to have to stay on top of the allergies. I know children with allergies have a tough row to hoe. This time of year can be especially difficult for those with an overactive immune system.
1. Which kids are at risk for fall allergies? Allergies can be inherited. If one parent has seasonal allergies, there is about a 35% chance his or her children will be effected. If both parents have allergies, this number jumps to 75%. Seasonal allergies usually develop before 10 years old and become most severe in the 20s. However, allergies can start at any time.
2. What’s so bad about school? Other than homework and discipline, schools harbor mold and dust mites. Add these to the chalk dust (Smartboard anyone?), and you have a recipe for reaction. September and October see a big jump in asthma exacerbations and allergy diagnoses in children.
3. Symptoms - Generally, the symptoms in children are the same as those in adults. In addition, children may be irritable, tired, nauseated and annoying. Fall is also the time when the kids start staying inside with all the other germy kids. Colds are, of course, very possible. However, if the symptoms don’t clear up or if itchy eyes and mouth are a top complaint, talk to your doctor about allergies.
4. Prevention – I plan on going into more detail about prevention and treatment tomorrow, but here are some tips designed specifically for kids. Pay attention to the foods they eat and the severity of their symptoms. In the fall especially, certain foods can worsen allergy symptoms. Make wise choices about their bed covers and sheets. Avoid those with a lot of surface area where dust mites can hang out and try to wash sheets and blankets frequently. Keep stuffed animals to a minimum and wash them often. If your child has been playing outside, make sure they wash their hair before going to bed. Do not let children with mold allergies frolic in the autumn leaves.
5. Treatment - With so many allergy sufferers, there are also many allergy treatments – big bucks. If you find you are giving your child an over-the-counter medicine to treat his or her allergies often, speak with your doctor. Children are especially sensitive to the side effects of decongestants and antihistamines. Your doctor should be better able to diagnose the allergen or allergens, so you can work on avoiding your child’s exposure. Also, his or her pediatrician may prescribe a medicine designed to target the symptoms your child is having, rather than using something systemic. Eye drops and nasal sprays can often be superior to an oral med.
Shane will be fine. There are many worse things than mild allergies. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if you could divvy up all your children’s ailments and obstacles? This way, they’d all have a little and no one, hopefully, would have a lot. Or, you could make sure the ones who deserve the breaks, get them. It does often seem one kid takes the brunt. He will just have to be my favorite – I’ve always wanted to go against PC parenting and admit that I like some more than others!