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Back To School: Manage Your Child's Asthma & Allergies

Unfortunately, the prevalence of allergies among people of all ages is consistently increasing, with researchers estimating that about 40 percent of children in the United States suffer from allergies, and low-income and minority children being more likely to be affected.

Allergies occur when the immune system responds abnormally to external substances, which are labeled 'allergens' when people have an allergic reaction to them. The reaction process starts when the immune system senses the allergens and responds effectively and defensively to protect the body and prevent the substances from causing any harm.

For some, it's also possible to experience asthmatic symptoms as a response to these external allergens. The side effects of asthma cause a swelling of the airways, which in turn, provokes breathing issues, wheezing, and coughing. However, while asthma can present itself as an allergic reaction, it can also occur as a chronic condition completely unrelated to environmental factors.

Genetics make up a large factor of allergy development in young children. For instance, if one parent has allergies, the child has a 33 percent chance of developing allergies. However, if both parents have allergies, the rate increases to about 70 percent. Unfortunately, those with allergies also have a higher risk of developing nasal polyps, sinusitis, ear infections, sleep disorders, and asthma. Meanwhile, asthma tops the list of the most common and serious chronic childhood medical condition in the United States, and is also the third most common cause of hospitalization for kids under the age of 15.

A few common airborne allergens that affect many who suffer from allergies include plant pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust and typical allergic symptoms involve nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, and coughing. Some helpful remedies for reducing symptoms include flushing the nasal passages with saline solution and taking over-the-counter or even prescription medications to alleviate congestion, sneezing, and runny noses. Those who suffer from allergies may also have an easier time managing their symptoms by avoiding potential allergens altogether. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter, washing bedding frequently, keeping the humidity level low in the home, and keeping windows closed can all be helpful measures to take when attempting to control allergies and keep them from becoming a handicap.

Studies have revealed that about 50 percent of the people who have been diagnosed with asthma will have at least one attack each year, with children being more likely to experience asthma attacks over adults. An attack can be triggered by allergens, irritants in the air, changes in the weather, illness, or even exercise and the symptoms of an asthma attack include a tightening of the chest, wheezing, and coughing. It is common for those in an attack to experience feelings of apprehension and panic once these physical symptoms set in, which can make the attack worse, especially for young children. Remaining calm is important in these situations, and using an inhaler can help to open up the airways once again. However, if the attack worsens, it could become a medical emergency.

For a child with asthma, preventing an asthmatic attack is an important part of daily care. When allergies and asthma are related, eliminating triggers often helps to prevent symptoms and attacks. Common triggers might include tobacco smoke, pet dander, dust, air pollution, or mold. Creating an accessible asthma action plan can be an extremely effective tool for self-management as well as for children's allergies.

For children, 'green lit' activities can occur when there is no coughing or wheezing present, breathing is fine, and when sleep interruptions have not occurred. It's time to exert some caution if problematic events arise such as catching a cold, having a tight chest, being exposed to a trigger, coughing at night, or noticing a mild wheeze. Danger is present if medicine stops helping with symptoms, if talking is difficult, if breathing gets fast and hard, if ribs begin to show when breathing, and if the nose opens wide with inhalation. If these symptoms are present, the child should seek a doctor immediately.


Visit these websites for tips about asthma prevention and management of symptoms:


Learn about allergies and how to ease your child's allergy symptoms with this information:

Find more about the author: Kristen Breedlove

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