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Allergies Health Center

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Managing Allergies at School

Help keep your child on the ball despite allergies.
WebMD Feature

Does your child miss school due to allergies? If so, you're not alone.

Seasonal allergies are believed to affect as many as 40% of U.S. children. On any given day, about 10,000 of those children miss school because of their allergies. That's a total of more than 2 million lost school days every year.

Even if your child doesn't miss school, allergies can get in the way of a productive school day, so managing allergies at school is an important part of caring for your child's health.

Managing Allergy Symptoms at School

Symptoms like fatigue, headache, sneezing, runny noses, watery eyes, and itchiness can get in the way of attention and concentration, and the medications taken to manage these symptoms can also interfere with school performance. What's a parent to do?

At home, you can do a lot more to control your child's environment and limit exposure to allergens than you can at school. But it's worthwhile to ask your child's teacher or principal how they handle allergies at school, and if they will consider measures such as:

  • High-efficiency air filters
  • Keeping windows closed on high-pollen days
  • Asking the lawn crew to mow the lawns when children are not present.

Treating Allergies at School With Prescription Nasal Sprays

If your child has moderate to severe allergies, simple environmental control measures and over-the-counter medications probably will not control their symptoms well enough.

For these children, the best method of controlling many allergy symptoms is prescription nasal steroids, says childhood allergy specialist Charles E. Lowe III, MD, a pediatric allergy and asthma specialist in Pikeville, Ky.

"You only need to use a prescription nasal spray once a day, and they work best at controlling [nasal] allergy symptoms. They're the preferred first-line treatment," Lowe says. "But kids don't like spraying liquid up their nose, and there's a misconception that you can get hooked on them."

In fact, prescription nasal steroids do not cause dependency problems. (Over-the-counter sprays can cause dependency and rebound symptoms.)

Lowe recommends that a child begin using a prescription nasal spray at the beginning of local allergy season, and use it throughout the duration of seasonal symptoms. To avoid that unpleasant taste in the back of the throat, the child should be taught to take a big sniff right up the nostril.

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