Children’s Series: Allergies

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allergiesAllergies can be annoying, to say the least. But in some cases, they can also be debilitating and even deadly. And even more so in children.

Allergies are hypersensitivity reactions to normally harmless substances. In allergic rhinitis, the immune system releases histamines and other chemicals to fight the “allergen.” As a result, swelling (inflammation) and congestion of the nasal passages and increased mucus production occurs. Allergies can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, but commonly children experience stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy skin and eyes. Allergies can be seasonal or chronic, depending on the allergen. And the allergen can be anything from peanuts to mold to feathers. As children age, they can “outgrow” their allergies as their immune system matures.

Here are five tips help with decreasing symptoms associated with allergies.

1. Supplement. Nutrients such as bioflavonoids, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids, essential fatty acids, selenium, B vitamins, and vitamin C work to help with inflammation, reduce allergic symptoms, soothe irritated mucous membranes, and support immune function. Click here to see what supplements can be beneficial for your child. Don’t forget to consult with an expert to see what is best.

2. Wash your hands/nose. Wash pollen from hands and face after outdoor activities, and avoid touching the eyes or nose while outside. Bathing before bed reduces exposure to pollens on hair and skin, and washing bedding regularly is essential. A saline sinus flush with a neti pot or squeeze bottle helps remove accumulated pollens and congestion in the nasal passages.

3. Don’t forget about inside. Keep indoor pollen at bay by closing windows and using central or portable HEPA filters during allergy seasons. Consider removing outdoor clothes and shoes when returning home after activities, leaving them outside your living space. Hang laundry to dry indoors instead of under pollen-filled trees, but be aware of excess interior dampness if mold sensitivity is also an issue. To minimize the pollen pets bring home, plan regular baths for your furry friends.

4. Timing is everything. Timing outdoor activities to coincide with decreased pollen levels may save you hours of itching. Pollen counts are reported by local weather services, but are generally highest between 5 am and 10 am. Some seasons may be better for you than others. For example, if your allergies are limited to fall weeds, spring and early summer would be better times to plan that wilderness camping trip.

5. Clean up your child’s diet. Consider doing an elimination or rotation diet of possible troublesome foods for a few weeks to see if you notice improvement in your child’s allergy symptoms. Keeping a diet diary can also prove helpful in monitoring symptoms and possible food triggers. Eating colorful fruits and vegetables provides protective flavonoids. Avoiding unhealthy fats and oils, sugar, and refined carbohydrates is recommended to reduce stress on the body. In addition, ensure that your child is drinking plenty of water help to help thin mucus secretions.

You can also schedule a consultation with one of Village Green’s naturopathic doctors or nutritionists for a personal assessment of your child’s particular situation.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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March 2015
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