|This is what is in my medicine cabinet at home|
This all started for her when she was about four. I came home after work and she was running frantically around the house rubbing her eyes and bumping into things. Her eyelids were so puffy she could hardly see out of them. It was then I realized I needed to take a more pro-active approach toward her allergies. I needed to keep them under control, to not allow things to get so bad again.
Sometimes I have families come in to the office season after season, surprised that their children have allergy symptoms again! Parents sometimes don't want to keep their children on medication all the time. They don't like medication, and don't think it's healthy for their child to take "so much."
I think, if these parents had allergies themselves and knew what it was like, they would just go ahead and give the medicine and never allow things to get so bad for their child. It is simply miserable to be itchy, sneezy, congested, with a constant runny nose or post-nasal drip.
You can do some simple things at home to help your child with seasonal allergies:
- Keep their bedroom windows closed during allergy season so the pollen doesn't get into their bedding and clothes.
- Bathe them and wash their hair in the evening if they have been playing outside all day during allergy season. This will wash off some of the pollen so they don't breathe it all night.
- If you have air conditioning consider using it during allergy season.
- Give your child a simple over the counter antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec). Either of these will last 24 hours, have few side effects, and work great especially to prevent allergy symptoms. Even fexofenadine (Allegra) is now available without a prescription, but it is still pretty expensive and must be dosed twice a day. These medications will work best if you give them regularly during your child's allergy season.
- If eye symptoms are really bad you can rinse your child's eyes gently with some saline solution, and then use over the counter allergy eye drops regularly to prevent symptoms. Two of the drops I know you can buy without a prescription are Zaditor and Patanol.
- An occasional dose of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can go a long way if things get out of control and you have to get the symptoms calmed down for the night.
So, don't be surprised if the allergy symptoms your child had last spring come back again this year! The same holds true for fall allergies. Go ahead and treat your child's symptoms and help prevent the symptoms during the entire season your child usually has trouble.
Allowing your child to suffer through the allergies does NOT make their immune system better able to fight the allergies! It just makes them feel terrible.
If you want to do something to try to actually reduce or eliminate the allergies you will have to talk to an allergist about immunotherapy. This is a long-term (2-5 years?) endeavor of year-round weekly or biweekly allergy shots. To many kids (depending upon their age and tolerance), this treatment would be worse than taking some antihistamine for a few weeks or months each spring (or fall).