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Should Allergies Keep Your Child at Home?

Practical advice on how to keep allergies from interfering with your child’s life.

Allergens at School

Children can develop allergies to many different things. And there are some allergens that are often found in classrooms. These include:

  • Chalk dust. This allergen can cause asthma attacks in children with allergies and asthma. If your child is allergic to chalk dust, he or she should sit a good distance away from the board. Also tell your child to be sure to wash his or her hands right away after writing with chalk.
  • Dust mites. Tiny as they are, dust mites are public enemy number one when it comes to chronic symptoms of allergies and asthma. They thrive in humid environments. For that reason, air conditioning can help keep them at bay.
  • Mold. The spores produced by molds that grow in damp, dark places can be dangerous for children with allergies and asthma. Make sure the school practices proper clean-up procedures if mold occurs. The school should also promptly fix any leaks that occur.
  • Pet dander. Dander is the dead skin cells that are sloughed off by animals. It can cause some children to have uncomfortable symptoms, including itchy eyes and stuffy nose. A child with allergies may also develop skin rashes after touching certain animals. Caged classroom pets are not usually a problem for children who are allergic to dander they breathe in. But if your child is allergic to dander, be sure your child’s teacher knows it is not okay for your child to hold or help care for the classroom pet.
  • Pollen. Your child may be allergic to pollens produced by various plants. Open windows in the classroom may aggravate these allergies. Ask that windows be kept closed and air-conditioning used. Pollen allergies can also put a serious damper on recess and sports practice. Making sure your child takes the appropriate medicine ahead of time will help prevent watery eyes, stuffy nose, and other symptoms.

Develop an Asthma & Allergy Action Plan

To keep allergies from interfering with your child’s life, focus on being prepared. One of the best things you can do is develop an allergy action plan. If your child has asthma, you will also need an asthma action plan.

Nathaniel Horne, MD, says a common concern for parents of a child with asthma is upper respiratory infections. Horne is an allergist with Allergy and Asthma Medical in New York City. He tells WebMD that the number of viral respiratory infections tends to increase when children return to school and the weather gets colder. “Upper respiratory tract infections are a classic trigger of asthma,” he says. “So parents of children with asthma need to have a good asthma action plan.”

Horne says there is a good plan available from the American Lung Association. It’s important to work with your doctor to customize the action plan. A good plan should be written and include a range of essential information about your child. At the minimum, you need to include information about your child’s allergy triggers, medications, and when to contact emergency professionals. Once you have the plan, be sure it’s always in reach. Also give copies of the plan to the school so that everyone who takes care of your child knows the plan.

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