For troubles that do not resolve, immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be a solution. With a series of shots administered over time, your child becomes desensitized to the allergens. It’s a more scientific application of the folk remedy of exposing kids to a cat.
“They have improved in terms of the dosing, frequency and purity which has led to significant relief of symptoms,” says Ponda of immunotherapy regimens. Shots are usually done in children seven or older. A child can come earlier but it is harder to do. Possible side effects include soreness of the injection site, itching, hives and red eyes. They have the potential to completely eliminate allergies in 18 months.
One Hudson Valley mom's worst nightmare!
Acupuncture can also be a helpful alternative. “It strengthens the immune system and makes the allergies go away,” says Detlef Wolf of the Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Center in Poughkeepsie.
An acupuncturist can also recommend Chinese herbs for all ages. “It works on the same principle as acupuncture. There is not enough energy in one place and too much in another, so we move it around to make the body balanced and able to defeat the problems,” explains Wolf. A 2004 study in Allergy Magazine reported that Chinese herbs combined with weekly acupuncture sessions showed promise in relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
If your child is a severe chronic allergy and sinus sufferer, you might look into a recent procedure called balloon sinuplasty. It is less invasive than older methods of widening sinus passages. “Instead of cutting incisions in the nose, we are, under anesthesia, inserting a tiny catheter with a balloon at the end into the blocked sinus and dilating it for a few seconds so the sinus stays open,” says Rubinstein, the first in the region to offer the new technique.
Allergies vs. School
A study in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy shows this breakthrough technology to be safe and effective in children. No adverse side effects have been reported. Sublingual immunotherapy, an accepted treatment in Europe, may soon be coming to the United States. “You can get a few drops of the allergen extract under your tongue and treat it at home instead of coming to the doctor’s office. So far, studies look promising,” says Rubinstein. This therapy may be an alternative to allergy shots, although it can take a long time to achieve noticeable results. It has been endorsed as viable by the World Health Organization.
Relief is possible
Giving your child a little extra care may make him feel more comfortable during this difficult season. “Use a cold compress to the eyes and tell children not to rub their eyes because they will get more symptoms that will make them miserable,” warns Du. Remind your child to change clothes or shower after coming inside so he does not bring the pollen indoors. Keeping your windows closed can also be helpful. By working with the doctor in identifying allergies and creating an appropriate course of treatment, symptoms should be reduced enough to allow your child to enjoy the fresh springtime air with a minimum of irritation.
Jamie Lober, author of Pink Power, is a nationally known speaker dedicated to providing information on women’s and pediatric health topics. She can be reached at email@example.com.