Preventing and Reducing Allergies

by Stacey Schifferdecker

young girl with severe allergies sneezingWhen I was a child growing up in Colorado, none of my friends had allergies or asthma. Now, as a parent in Oklahoma, most of my friends’ children suffer from some types of allergies. I’m sure the different climate accounts for some of the difference, but it is also a fact that allergic diseases have increased in Western countries over the last 20 to 30 years. Why are allergies on the rise and how can we deal with them?

Why are allergies on the rise in children?

Ironically enough, it may be the cleanliness of our lifestyles that are causing the rise of some allergies. If children are underexposed to minor environmental threats early in life, their immune systems do not develop properly and can overreact to perceived threats. This doesn’t mean you need to deliberately expose your children to dangerous viruses and bacteria. Simple childhood activities like playing in the dirt, building roads in a sandbox, rolling in the grass, and living with a pet can strengthen your children’s immune systems and help protect them from allergies.

Dealing with respiratory allergies in children

Of course, not all allergies can be prevented. Some children are just born with a greater tendency to develop allergies, especially if their parents have allergies. If your child already has allergies, there are a number of ways you can reduce the severity of their attacks:
 
  • Wash bedding and stuffed animals regularly in hot water to remove dust mites.
  • Use impermeable mattress pads on all beds.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to trap small particles other vacuum cleaners miss.
  • Clean heating ducts regularly
  • Clean or replace furnace and air conditioning filters every month.
  • Keep pets groomed and shampooed. Do not allow pets on the furniture.
  • Use a dehumidifier in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer to keep air dry and prevent mold from forming.
  • Give your child more oily fish, bananas and apple juice, which studies have linked to reduced allergies and asthma symptoms.
  • Keep them indoors in the late morning and early afternoon, when pollen production is highest.
  • Choose hard flooring, such as wood or tile, instead of carpet. Also choose wooden shutters instead of curtains.
 
Of course, many over-the-counter medicines and natural remedies are available to help treat allergies. Before trying any over-the-counter meds always check with your physician, especially in small children. You should definitely see a doctor or seek immediate medical attention if your child 
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Suddenly develops hives or swelling around the face and lips
  • Has a cough or cold that lasts more than a week
  • Has allergy symptoms that get worse for no apparent reason
Biography Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.
 
No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2008 All Rights Reserved

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