Kids' Allergies: Schoolwork Can Suffer
Children's Allergy Symptoms Interfere With School, Sports, and More, Survey Shows
WebMD News Archive
March 17, 2008 (Philadelphia) -- Kids' allergies are nothing to sneeze at. A first-of-its-kind
national survey shows that when kids suffer nasal allergy symptoms, everything
from their sleep to their schoolwork suffers as well.
In the study of more than 1,000 families, parents of kids with allergies
were twice as likely to say their children's activities were limited by their
health, compared with parents whose kids didn't have allergies.
Nearly three-fourths of parents of kids with allergies said their children
frequently or sometimes felt tired during allergy season. Two-thirds said their
kids were irritable, and more than half said their offspring were downright
"These are big numbers," says Eli O. Meltzer, MD, a pediatric
allergist at the University of California, San Diego, who helped design the
"The perception of [allergic] rhinitis as a disease has been
underwhelming. These findings underscore the "dis-ease" children
have," he tells WebMD.
The survey was presented here at the annual meeting of the American Academy
of Allergy, Asthma
& Immunology (AAAAI).
How Widespread Are Allergies?
Allergic rhinitis affects about 40 million people in the U.S., including up
to 40% of children, according to AAAAI.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, most commonly hits
people in the spring, when trees, grasses, weeds, and ragweed release their
pollen. Perennial allergic rhinitis, which hits year-round, is triggered by
common indoor allergens, such as pet dander, mold, droppings from dust mites,
and cockroach particles.
If you're sensitive, your immune system views the pollen or other allergens
as foreign invaders and sends an out an army of histamines. Histamines are
chemicals that trigger inflammation in the sinuses, nose, and eyes.
From there, it's a downward spiral into fits of sneezing, congestion,
postnasal drip, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
Kids' Allergy Survey Results
For the survey, the researchers conducted lengthy phone interviews with 500
parents of kids with allergies. They also surveyed 501 parents of children
Among the findings:
- 21% of parents said allergies limit their children's activities; only 11%
of parents whose child did not suffer from allergies said health restricts
- 41% of parents said that allergies interfere "a lot or some" with
their child's sleep; 8% of parents of children without allergies said health
- 61% of parents said their kids missed school in the past year because
of allergies; 26% said the condition interferes with "doing well in
- 39% of parents of children without allergies said their kids missed
classes because of health issues in the past 12 months, and 9% said health
issues prevented them from doing well in their classes.
- 32% of parents said allergies limit their kids' participation in sports;
10% of parents of kids without allergies said health restricts their children's
- Three-fourths of parents of children with allergies said their kids suffer
stuffed-up noses that are "extremely to moderately bothersome." Other
common -- and bothersome symptoms -- include sneezing fits, runny nose, watery
eyes, and postnasal drip.
- About half of parents of kids with allergies had moderately or extremely
bothersome facial pain and ear pain.
- Almost half of parents said their children use prescription medicine to
treat their allergies.
The study was funded by Sepracor Inc., maker of the Omnaris nasal spray,
which is used to treat allergic rhinitis.