Allergies hit many people hard, but children seem to be especially vulnerable. That may be because most allergies first appear during infancy or childhood, and some later fade away by adulthood. But children aren’t just more susceptible to allergies because of their bodies. They’re more susceptible because of their growing minds and their active lifestyles, which put them into more regular contact with potential allergens. Whether it be food, pet or outdoor allergies, children have a harder time than adults coping with this problem. But there are steps you can take to make life easier and safer for your child.
Here are a few:
1. Keep Yourself and Your Child Informed
Learn everything you can about your child’s allergy. Share with your child whatever they are able to understand. Help them do some online research of their own. Encourage them to ask questions of their allergist, and make sure they understand everything the doctor tells you. Encourage them to talk to other students with allergies and learn what they do to cope and prepare. Stay up to date on new developments and medications.
2. Plan in Advance
Of course, it should go without saying, but take whatever steps are necessary to learn the cause of your child’s allergy. Then make a plan with the allergist and involve your child in every step. Get an EpiPen and keep it near your child at all times, whether that be in their pocket or with their teacher, depending on school policy. Stock up on other necessary prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. Practice with your child to make sure they know what to do in case of an attack.
3. Learn School’s Food Policies
Does your child’s school label foods that contain peanuts? Eggs? Dairy? Does the school keep EpiPens on hand for emergencies? Is the school generally considered to be allergy-conscious? Most schools are improving in their awareness of childhood allergy concerns, but some are much better than others. These schools train their staff for emergencies, have snack policies that limit interaction with dangerous foods, and segregate foods in the lunchroom that contain allergens.
4. Avoid Triggers
If your child is allergic to pets, don’t get any. If you already have one, keep it out of your child’s room at all times and try to keep it away from your child as much as possible. If the allergy is serious, you’ll have to give the pet away. If your child is allergic to dust mites, cover their crib or mattress with a mite-proof cover, remove stuffed animals, keep their room clean, get rid of carpets and heavy drapes. If it’s an outdoor allergy, use an air conditioner to filter allergens and keep windows closed. Wash their clothes and linens frequently. If indoor allergens are the culprit, get rid of household cleaners, perfumes and other strong chemicals, and ban all smoking (which you should really do under any circumstances if you have a child in the house).
5. Learn the Seasonal Patterns
If your child has an outdoor allergy, you’ll need to develop seasonal habits. Avoid the outdoors during high-pollination times, which will depend on when their particular allergen is in bloom – whether it be weeds, grasses or trees. Pollination is usually most intense between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Keep windows closed during these times. You may also want to run an air cleaner and keep pets from leaving or entering the house.
Allergies can take a hit out of anyone, but they’re especially hard on children. Whether it be food allergies, pet allergies or dust mite allergies, their bodies are vulnerable and their young minds aren’t well prepared to deal with the problem. But that’s why you’re there to help, and these tips can make the job a little easier.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.