Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Call with Dr. Kraut

With the spring season well underway many parents are wondering if their child could be suffering from seasonal allergies and how should they best treat it. Dr Kraut answers the most common questions parents ask regarding this topic.

How do I know if my child is suffering from seasonal allergies and what’s the best way to treat it?

If your child seems to having a stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, throat clearing and a cough this time of year, chances are seasonal allergies could be the cause. If symptoms increase after being outside, that should give you another hint. Also, children suffering from allergies generally do not run fevers.

What is rose fever?

Rose fever is the name commonly given to people who have allergic symptoms this time of year. People mistakenly thought that symptoms were due to the roses that were blooming. Actually, allergic symptoms in the spring are caused by tree and grass pollens.

What happens if allergies go untreated?
Children whose allergies are not treated can go on to develop ear and sinus problems. Fluid in the ear can affect hearing, sinus pressure can cause headaches, nasal congestion very often interferes with sleep which can lead to behavioral and school issues. In some cases, untreated nasal allergies can develop into allergic asthma.

What is the best treatment for seasonal allergies?

There is no one best treatment. Depending on symptoms, your child might benefit from antihistamines, eye drops and or nose sprays. There are many prescription and over-the-counter preparations available and it can get very confusing! Consultation with your doctor is the best place to start. In all cases, if you suspect your child might have allergies, keep your windows closed and use your air-conditioning. Also, make sure your child showers and washes his/her hair every night.

Should I start medication before the onset of seasonal allergies?
Yes, the ideal time to start medication is before symptoms start.

What do I do if my child doesn’t improve from the medications?

If they don't improve, check with your doctor to see if you are using the appropriate medications. An allergy consult might be recommended.

When should I get my child tested for allergies?

Allergists can help diagnose exactly what your child is allergic to so you and s/he will be better prepared next year. They use detailed histories, physical exams, skin tests and other tests to help determine what the best course of therapy should be. They can help choose those medications that will be of benefit to your child. Under some circumstances, immunotherapy (or allergy shots) might be recommended.