If your child suffers from allergies and sensitivities, you understand the challenges of everyday life. From planning outings and activities to preparing a simple meal, managing your child’s allergies isn’t always easy. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the risk of reaction, without adding to your own stress. Keep reading to learn more!
Is Your Child Taking the Right Medications?
For some children, keeping antihistamines on hand is enough to address the occasional reaction. For others, especially children with seasonal allergies, daily medications are often necessary. For children with more severe and varied allergies, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can reduce the risk of reaction and help children lead more active, normal lives. Talk to an allergist to see if your child is taking the right medications and in the right dosages. Also, since allergies can develop, worsen and disappear over time, regular appointments with an allergist are essential in keeping your child safe and healthy.
Once you or an allergist have identified your child’s triggers, eliminating them, at least in the home, is the easy part. For example, if you know your child reacts to wool and other itchy fabrics, you can make a point to buy only soft clothes for sensitive skin; or, if your child is allergic to cat dander, you can avoid contact with felines.
Identifying triggers, on the other hand, can get tricky. Kids are exposed to so many substances, it can be difficult to pin down the exact cause of a reaction. Short of allergy testing, you can watch for reactions like the following, then eliminate possible causes until the exact trigger is determined:
- Hives or welts.
- Skin that itches or burns.
- Itchy, watery eyes.
- Swelling of the face, tongue or throat.
- Wheezing or shortness of breath.
It’s important to note that, while sneezing, itching and other mild allergy symptoms are usually benign, swelling of the face, throat and tongue, as well as wheezing and shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, are signs of anaphylaxis, and should always be treated as an emergency.
Protecting Your Child at School
Reducing the risk of an allergic reaction while your child is at school or away from home is often challenging. For children with severe food allergies, for example, even secondhand contact with a trigger can be life-threatening. Thankfully, tips like the following can go a long way in keeping your child safe at school.
- Communication. Be sure your child’s teachers, the school nurse and administrators are aware of your child’s situation. Ask about policies regarding allergies, and make sure everyone is up-to-date on your child’s medication and dosing instructions.
- Planning. Prior to the school year, make sure your child has all the necessary prescriptions, including those for emergencies, like epinephrine or an asthma inhaler. If your child is old enough, make sure he or she knows the proper dosing procedures, and can administer emergency medications.
- Paperwork. Some school’s require medication authorization forms, which need to be signed by parents, doctors, and school administrators. Ask your child’s principal about any additional paperwork, and make sure everything is signed and completed before the first day of school.
- Education. Educating your child on allergies and the risk of reaction is often helpful. In simple terms, explain to your child what he or she must avoid in order to stay healthy. Make sure they know not to share food, and make sure they’re comfortable discussing their concerns with teachers and administrators.
Although childhood allergies can be dangerous, there are steps you can take in protecting your child, without added stress and anxiety. With the tips provided here, you can help avoid a reaction, whether your child is home or at school.