Avoidance and control measures for children with allergies
Removing carpets, encasing bedding with breathable covers, hot laundering of linen and keeping windows closed at night and in the early morning hours can minimize your children’s allergic burden and exposure. Also decreasing the prevalence of dust mites in the bedrooms of your children who are allergic to dust mites and are asthmatic can have a major improvement in their lung function and result in a reduced need for medications to treat their flare–ups.
Avoidance of allergy triggers, which may include such irritants and odors as perfume, tobacco smoke and colognes will also help your allergic children. Unfortunately, since viruses, particularly rhinoviruses (the cause of the common cold), are the most common stimulant of childhood asthma, and there are as yet no specific practical means available to deal with inactivating this virus or decreasing its penetration in the upper respiratory tract, we are powerless to prevent virus exposure.
However, vaccination with the flu vaccine and appropriate new agents, as they are released and shown to be safe for children, will be very worthwhile. Weather changes can be extremely provocative of asthmatic symptoms as are other seasonal factors, such as presence of pollen. Unfortunately, they are difficult to avoid. Scheduling outdoor playtime or exercise at non–peak pollen periods, such as afternoons or early evening, can be effective. Having your child wear a mask when dusting or vacuuming can be very helpful.
The recent availability of newer therapeutic agents for use in children has been extremely useful in managing rhinitis as well as asthma. Non–sedating antihistamines available in liquid form and rapidly dissolving tablet form can be very beneficial. Sodium cromolyn, which is an over the counter product, used as a nasal spray to prevent nasal allergy symptoms, has also been shown to be effective. Inhaled nasal corticosteroids have shown to be quite effective in ameliorating allergic inflammation. A leukotriene antagonist, a new class of drugs, has been approved for the treatment of childhood asthma and is available in a chewable form. Such agents can decrease asthma symptoms and also improve the quality of life.
In summary, allergies are partly due to genetic tendencies of a child born to parents or relatives with allergies that react to normally harmless substances in the environment (allergens). Common allergens include pollen grains, dust mites, house dust, airborne mold particles and animal dander. Long term complications of allergy in children include sinus problems (sinusitis) and recurrent ear problems such as serious and chronic fluid in the middle ear (otitis media). Those conditions may require antibiotics as well as the placement of ear tubes (in the care of ears) for ventilation.