With allergy season beginning (and the season of the yellow dust is usually pretty horrendous around Raleigh!), it is important to understand common airborne allergens– and knowing a bit more about food allergens is a good idea too! Allergies are extremely common in children. Fortunately, there are many great treatments that can help control your child’s allergy symptoms. Although parents often use Benadryl over the counter, its frequent use should usually be avoided because it doesn’t last very long and can make your child sleepy – Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), or Zyrtec (cetirizine) are much better options. Just recently, Nasacort, a very effective allergy nose spray, went over the counter as well, so no more need for a prescription to get this medicine. Zaditor eye drops (also over the counter) can be a life saver for those red itchy eyes. Never forget simple avoidance, like checking the web for high pollen days and avoiding excessive outdoor play at these times, and washing off with a change of clothes when your child comes back in after a day out in the pollen.
Today, allergies account for the loss of an estimated 2 million school days per year. Carolina Kids, your pediatricians
in Raleigh, NC, are available to help you better understand and treat your child’s allergies before they take over your child’s life.
Common Airborne Allergens
A lot of allergies begin with airborne allergens. Dust mites are one of the most common causes of allergies. These microscopic insects live all around us and feed on the millions of dead skin cells that fall off our bodies every day. Dust mites are the main allergic component of house dust, which is made up of many particles and can contain things such as fabric fibers and bacteria, as well as microscopic animal and mold allergens.
Pollen is another major cause of allergies. These include trees, weeds and grasses, as they release tiny particles of pollen into the air to fertilize other plants. Pollen allergies are seasonal, and the type of pollen your child is allergic to will determine when symptoms occur. In North Carolina, tree pollination begins in February and lasts through May, grass from May through June, and ragweed from August through October. During these times, those with allergies are likely to experience increased symptoms.
It is estimated that up to 2 million children in the United States are affected by food allergies, and that eight foods account for most of those food allergy reactions in kids: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. Most food reactions occur within minutes of ingesting a food. A mild reaction (such as hives) can be treated with Benadryl, but watch out for facial swelling, wheezing, coughing, hoarseness, vomiting, or other signs of severe reaction (anaphylaxis) which can require a rapid injection of epinephrine and a trip to the ER. Milk and egg allergies are often outgrown in early childhood, but nut and seafood allergies are often more serious and lifelong. Strict avoidance of these allergens is often the best bet, and it is always important to have injectable epinephrine (Epi-pen, Twinject, or Auvi-Q) close at hand if your child has these allergies. There are also some exciting new studies available in our area for gradual, oral desensitization to peanut allergy. For more information on food allergy, check out www.foodallergy.org
Talk to us at Carolina Kids, your pediatrician in Raleigh, NC, for more information on your child’s allergies. Whether your child needs allergy testing, allergy medications, or just some practical advice on allergy avoidance, we’re here to get you through the cloud of yellow pollen dust and out the other side unscathed!