Monday, April 28, 2008

Kids and Allergies

My kids have been sneezing like crazy and their noses have been running for weeks. My pediatrician says they have allergic rhinitis, a.k.a allergies.

Allergic rhinitis is believed to affect 20% of all adults and up to 40% of children.
On any given day, 10,000 American children miss school because of allergic rhinitis, for an annual total of 2 million lost school days.

If you as a parent think your kids have allergies, there's a good chance you're on to something. The question is: When are kid's allergies bad enough to give them allergy medication daily? My kids are young (1 an 4-yrs old) so I can't imagine giving them Claritin or Zyrtec everyday. I try not to give them medicine unless they really need it for health reasons. But I am also worried about the expense! That would be awfully pricey!

According to, these are the warning signs that you need address your child's allergies:

  • The most common symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, sore throat, throat clearing and a cough that may be worse at night and in the morning.
  • Other signs of having allergic rhinitis include the 'allergic salute,' a common habit of children which consists of rubbing their nose upward. This is usually because the nose is itchy and this practice can lead to a small crease in the skin of the lower part of the nose.
  • Children with allergic rhinitis also commonly have 'allergic shiners,' which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion.
What we can do to prevent allergies from taking over our kid's lives:
  • Get rid of dust collectors, including heavy drapes, upholstered furniture, & stuffed animals.
  • Use an airtight, allergy-proof plastic cover on all mattresses, pillows and box springs.
  • Wash all bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every 7-14 days.
  • If you must keep pets in the house, at least keep them out of your child's bedroom and wash your pet each week to remove surface allergens.
  • Avoid exposing your child to molds by keeping him away from damp basements or water-damaged areas of your home (check under carpets).
  • Remove carpeting if possible.
  • Vacuum frequently (when your child is not in the room, since many of the things that cause allergies are small enough to go back out of the vacuum cleaner bag).
  • Cover air vents with filters.
  • Avoid the use of ceiling fans.
  • For seasonal allergies, keep windows closed in the car and home to avoid exposure to pollens and limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest (early morning for spring time tree pollens, afternoon and early evening for summer grasses, and in the middle of the day for ragweed in the fall)
  • Consider using a HEPA filter to control airborne allergens (these only work if what you are allergic to is airborne, which doesn't include dust mites and mold).
  • Keep indoor humidity low, since dust mites and mold increase in high humidity.
    Provide a smoke-free environment for your child (it is not enough to simply smoke outside).

I do have Zyrtec for my four-year-old, but I don't give it to him everyday. On days he seems miserable, I give it to him. I think you have to be really consistent with the medication for it to work appropriately, so what I am doing probably isn't the best. However, it works for us!

Do your kids have allergies?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Anonymous said...

As an adult I somehow acquired allergies and it is such a pain. It is so hard to imagine my child havein gallergies too. They can be such a pain!

This is great helpful information and i am so glad this site exists for us people without too much time to go on here and find out the best places to go as well as learn from.

Thanks NewsAnchor mom!!

Alan said...

My allergies are awful this time of year. But Zyrtec does nothing for me. Psudephed seems to be the only thing that works but I hate the stigma that goes along with buying it.

Maria said...

I never had allergy problems until I moved to Oklahoma. Unfortunately, my son is plagued by them. His have gotten so bad, even the Zyrtec doesn't appear to be working (or Claritin or this other prescription stuff we tried...), so tomorrow I am calling the doctor again. Poor little guy... it's interrupting his sleep and everything now. :-( said...

Maria, I am so sorry to hear that. I know when I lived in California and Michigan my allergies weren't as bad as they are in Illinois and Missouri. I definitely feel like WHERE you live plays a big role in how bad they get. You'll have to let us know if you find a solution. I am assuming you have already tried the household remedies I mentioned in the post?

Maria said...

Yes. We've also used an air purifier in his room lately, but that doesn't seem to be helping. Oh, and every day that he plays outside means a night time bath (can't remember if that was on your list) to wash the pollens and stuff off.

My Flock Rocks! said...

My son had severe allergies growing up. I took him to an allergist who did the scratch test that showed everything he was allergic to. It was amazing! Some of the food he was eating was affecting him also! He was allergic to eggs that made his eyes water, and have the same symptom as a terrible cold.

He received shots three times a week that built up his immunity. I watched his diet, vacuumed everyday with a special vacuum that trapped the dirt in water, wet wiped down everything in his bedroom, replaced his curtains with shades, and washed his bedding twice a week. I am happy to report that he outgrew his allergies!

Druh said...

But why do so many kids today have allergies? Is anyone looking into the reasons? Sure, I know all about the Hygiene Hypothosis; but I bet there's more to it than that.

Ask around to all the moms you know. I'm doing a personal, informal poll (but I don't know enough moms to make it statistically significant) to compare the rates of asthma and allergies among children who were exclusively breastfed for longer than six months and were not vaccinated, to the rates of asthma and allergies among children who were formula-fed and vaccinated on schedule. said...

Shots three times a week? That sounds grueling! That is great that he outgrew the allergies. I didn't realize that can happen.

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