Allergies are miserable for anyone and everyone, but when our kids suffer from them it is especially heart-wrenching. Whether indoors or outdoors, in the city or the country, kids can find a wide array of allergy triggers. Parents are always searching for ways to stop or prevent allergies, and the good news is that there are some actions parents can take to help their kids avoid allergies. The following are the 5 best methods to prevent child allergies.
Determine Allergy Risk
Before you can prevent allergies, you should determine your child’s allergy risk level. Some factors to consider include:
- Family history of allergies, especially in one or both parents or any siblings
- Exposure to cigarette smoke (increases risk of respiratory issues)
- Exposure to cow’s milk or other common food allergens before 6 months of age
- History of allergy reaction to a specific allergen
If any of the above hold true, your child may have an increased risk of having allergy symptoms. Parents should also consider how many allergens your child has been exposed to in their environment. A child has to be exposed to an allergen before they can become allergic to it. Therefore, the more allergy triggers present in a child’s environment, the more likely they are to have an allergic reaction to it.
Once you’ve determined your child’s risk level, you can more effectively address their needs and help avoid or prevent allergies. Heavier precaution measures should be taken for a child with high allergy risk. Talk to your doctor for further diagnostic information.
Carefully Plan Your Outdoor Adventures
Outdoor allergies can wreak havoc on kids with allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 7 million kids get hay fever every year. Pollen and other allergens are present in huge amounts in large cities like NYC. In order to avoid itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and runny noses, parents should be careful about when they are outdoors.
Pollen counts are highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., which is when most kids are off to school. Try and keep your child indoors or in a vehicle with closed windows during these hours if possible. If your family likes to exercise outdoors, plan outings for the afternoon and evening hours when pollen counts are at their lowest. There are apps available for your smartphone that can help you track pollen and other outdoor allergy concerns.
Allergy-Proof Your Home
Your home can be a home to more than just your family. House allergens that are just as irritating as pollen may abound throughout the homestead. Dust mites and mold can be allergy culprits. In addition, unexpected places in your home could be harboring allergens. Here are some ideas for allergy-proofing your home:
- Trade in your upholstered furniture for leather and vinyl furniture and keep upholstered accessories like pillows and blankets minimal, as they can collect dust, dander and other allergens
- Make sure your houseplants aren’t contributing to your child’s pollen problems
- Scrub your bathroom to clean any mold that could put irritating spores into the air
- Get rid of carpet, a haven for dust mites and molds, if possible
- Wash your child’s stuffed animals and other plush toys regularly
- Purchase a vacuum with a HEPA-rated filter to avoid making allergens airborne
- Get a good air filter and keep it going regularly
- Consider your family pet, as some dog and cat breeds shed more than others and can harbor more dander in their coats
Begin Prevention at an Early Age
Once your child is born, there are some simple steps you can take during their earliest years to help them avoid a lifetime of allergies. No matter your child’s allergy risk level, following some basic guidelines can help their immune system mature in a healthy, low allergy way.
Exclusively breastfeed your child for at least the first 6 months or as long as possible. This reduces your child’s exposure to allergy-causing foods while also providing key nutrients for the immune system. You may wish to consult your doctor concerning which foods to consume while breastfeeding, as some allergens may pass through the breast milk in small amounts. When nursing isn’t possible, look for hypoallergenic formulas that have been extensively hydrolyzed.
When introducing solid foods, be wary of common allergens. Eggs, dairy, nuts and fish should be introduced in small amounts until it is determined that there is no allergy. Don’t wait too long, however, as introducing these foods at a later time could actually encourage an allergy. If your child does exhibit signs of a food allergy, like swelling, hives or rash, contact doctor right away.
As a general health rule, don’t expose children to secondhand smoke. Kids exposed to secondhand smoke generally tend to have increased respiratory and asthma issues. They also have higher incidences of allergy.
Get Preventative Care
While there are some things you can do on your own to prevent your child’s allergies, seeing a childhood allergy professional is the best way to help avoid and treat allergies for your child. Your child’s doctor may recommend immunotherapy or other antihistamines to help prevent allergy symptoms from occurring. Your doctor can also help determine definite risks and allergy triggers for your child.
Allergy Care from Dr. Shukla
Parental caution is good, but customized and accurate healthcare by an experienced physician is even better. Dr. Mayan Shukla has helped kids in the NYC area avoid allergies for over 15 years. A full allergy work up from Dr. Shukla can help your child breathe easier and have a happier childhood sans allergies. Call Dr. Shukla today to schedule an appointment and start preventing your child’s allergies.