Document 368858

Preparing for your child for Back to School
IT’S THAT TIME of year again—back to school.
Before you know it you will hear school bells ringing,
textbooks being cracked open and children playing,
laughing and….sneezing? According to WebMD seasonal allergies affect 40 percent of U.S. children. On
any given day 10,000 of these children are absent
from school because of seasonal and perennial allergy
symptoms including watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, headache and drowsiness. Even more so, allergic
rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is the leading
cause of missed school and work days nationwide.
This year as you dust off the backpack and fill it
with school supplies, take a few moments to learn
about seasonal allergies and prevention tips to help
ensure your children are healthy and not suffering
from distracting allergy symptoms this school year.
Here is what you need to know:
Do you actually know what your child is allergic
to? Or are you just guessing? Did you know that most
adults and children can be tested for allergies? The
first step is to make an appointment at your child’s
pediatrician or primary care physician. They can test
for the most frequent seasonal and perennial allergens in your area by using the most reliable form of
testing; a noninvasive skin (prick) test. The doctor will
be able to tell you exactly what your child is allergic
to in about 15 minutes and discuss with you several
treatment options and avoidance techniques.
• Non-medication options
Depending on the severity of your child’s allergies,
he/she may not need oral antihistamines, over-thecounter medications and/or nasal steroids. It may
help to take specific measures to avoid contact with
outdoor allergens such as keeping the windows in
the classroom closed during high pollen count days
or have air conditioning filters replaced with high proficiency ones. Discuss these options with your child’s
teacher, principal or school nurse. Have your kids take
a bath in the evening to remove any pollen they may
have come in contact with on their skin and hair.
• Over-the-counter and prescription medications
If your child doesn’t seem to react positively to the
avoidance strategies mentioned above, then you may
want to try an over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine, or nasal spray formulated for children. Remember these medications may have multiple side effects, including a sedating effect. However, untreated
allergic symptoms may make your child even drowsier
or distracted. Be sure to talk to your doctor regarding
side effects and other adverse reactions when starting a new course of treatment.
• Immunotherapy
If your kids experience allergy symptoms for more
than three months out of the year, you might want
to talk with your child’s physician about the only
disease-modifying treatment for allergies--immunotherapy (allergy shots). Immunotherapy is a treatment
that decreases sensitivity to allergens by introducing increasing amounts of those allergens to the
patient over time. This form of treatment treats the
root cause of allergies by building up a tolerance, as
opposed to over-the-counter medications that just
mask symptoms. In addition, immunotherapy is customized for each patient. For example, if your child is
allergic to Bermuda grass, mountain cedar and dog
hair, then your child’s immunotherapy will include only
those antigens. Studies have shown that 85 percent
of people treated with immunotherapy for hay fever
may achieve symptom relief within the first year of
starting immunotherapy.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider about allergy testing and shots. United Allergy
Services (UAS) enables primary care physicians and
pediatricians to provide patients with customized allergy shots that patients can administer themselves
at home. This means no more trips back and forth to
the allergist. For seasonal and perennial allergy sufferers, self-administered immunotherapy under the
guidance of a primary care physician allows access
to high-quality, affordable, safe, allergy care and ultimately a symptom-free, healthy life.
If your child is experiencing any allergy related
symptoms, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician before the school
year starts. It is an important step in helping your kids
have a successful school year.
Frederick M. Schaffer, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI, Clinical Associate Professor at the Medical University of South
Carolina, is a board-certified allergist and the Chief
Medical Officer and Director of the medical advisory
board of United Allergy Services, a healthcare services company that assists physicians in independent and group practices to provide in-office allergy
testing and immunotherapy.