It’s time to enlist your St. Luke’s pediatrician in the fight against your children’s allergies.
Beautiful June days are here again, and that means more sun and fun outdoors for everyone, especially the kids. But if the weather is welcome, other aspects of the season are not. If your child is sniffling, sneezing, experiencing an itchy nose and watery eyes at this time of year, chances are it’s not a cold. It’s—achoo!—allergies.
Dr. Jennifer Janco, Chair of Pediatrics, St. Luke’s University Health Network. Courtesy St. Luke’s University Health Network
Allergies are on the increase, note researchers. They affect as many as 40 percent of children. Allergic disease, including asthma, is the third most common chronic disease in children under 18 years old. Allergic conditions are the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S. today.
To make matters worse, the Lehigh Valley area is ranked as one of the most challenging places to live with Spring allergies in the Northeast, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
So what should you do if you suspect your child is suffering from seasonal allergies?
“Seeing your pediatrician is a smart thing to do,” advises Jennifer Janco, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, St. Luke’s University Health Network. “Your child’s doctor can evaluate the symptoms and recommend effective remedies. If these treatments fail to improve your child’s symptoms, then we’ll determine if your child should see an allergist.”
Dr. Janco recommends doing a little homework before your appointment with your pediatrician to get the most out the visit.
Track your child’s symptoms. You want to be prepared to talk about:
- Symptoms your child is experiencing and how severe they are
- How the symptoms affect him or her on a daily basis
- How severe they are, when they appear and if they change
- If you’ve noticed these symptoms before and at what age
- Who else in the family has allergies
Ask the right questions to get the most helpful answers. According to Dr. Janco, here are some questions you may want to bring up with your child’s doctor:
- How do you determine if my son or daughter has allergies?
- Which specific allergens seem to worsen my child’s symptoms?
- Will his or her allergies get better or go away over time?
- Should my son or daughter see an allergy specialist? Who do you recommend?
- Would children’s over-the-counter remedies possibly help?
- If I know my child has allergies, when should I start giving her/him the allergy medicine? When the season starts or when the symptoms get bothersome?
Dr. Janco and the American Academy of Pediatrics also caution parents not to assume your child is too young to develop allergies. While seasonal allergies traditionally begin to develop in preschool or early elementary school, they can appear as early as age two.
“The best advice for parents is not to try and determine on your own whether your child has allergies,” says Dr. Janco. “Your pediatrician can help identify the source of your child’s allergies and the best methods to treat them effectively.”