Spring Allergies: A Q&A with Our Top Expert
How to handle the runny nose, itchy eyes, and sinus pain of spring allergies
Allergies that lead to chronic sinusitis and possibly swollen tonsils and
adenoids also need to be addressed. In my experience, if you treat the sinus
infections and the tonsil and adenoid infections aggressively with antibiotics
and even sometimes steroids and irrigation, typically both will shrink and you
will spare your child having to have an operation.
Q: What’s the first step for parents who think their child may have
A: Start by making an appointment to see a board-certified sinus and
allergy specialist. Saline irrigation is the easiest treatment, either with a
neti pot, squeeze bottle, or irrigating system. Antihistamines are also very
helpful. But, if possible, parents can also take up the carpeting in their
child’s room and replace with wood, linoleum, or tile floors. Also, remove
dust-catching drapes from their children’s room. If their kids have been
outside and rolling around in the grass, take their clothes off before they
reach their bedroom, and give them a bath. Certainly use air conditioners and
purifiers. And, again, be sure to clean the filters.
Q: What about decongestants? Parents have so many concerns about
medicating their children. What does the research show about what’s safe -- and
not safe -- to give children with allergies?
A: There are now new warnings on decongestants, and since long-term
usage may cause problems, even heart problems, I recommend parents use
decongestants very sparingly because they can have significant side
As far as antihistamines go, several on the market are nonsedating and don’t
cause fatigue; I think those are good for children. They can play an important
role in controlling allergy symptoms. I think allergy shots are great for kids.
You’re going to need a commitment -- even a year, maybe two or three -- and
you’ll need to be followed closely by an allergy specialist. I’ve seen kids do
very well. When they’re first allergic, they’re miserable. But two or three
years later, they are feeling terrific and come allergy season, they’re just
not feeling it. Again, getting to the problem early helps thwart allergies.
The benefits are there for adults, too. There are drawbacks -- some people
don’t have the time for the weekly shots; others are afraid of needles. In
Europe, doctors are giving drops under the tongue, but that’s not FDA-approved
here yet, even though several studies do show they are effective.
Q: One of the toughest situations that comes up when kids are diagnosed
with allergies is the recommendation to reduce exposure to allergens by giving
away the family cat or dog. What is your position on this?
A: It’s a question of working with people’s lifestyles. If you take
10 people who are avid golfers and tell them they have to quit because of their
allergies, 10 out of 10 are going to tell you to take a walk.