Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kids Ready to Spring into Allergy Season?

Loyola Pediatric Allergist Talks about Kids and Pollen Allergies

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Spring is having a hard time deciding if it wants to be here this year. Still, for many allergy sufferers its presence is being felt. Allergies are extremely common with an estimated 50 million people in the United States suffering from them.

“Spring is a problem for lots of people with allergies because it’s when trees and other plants start releasing pollen into the air,” said Joyce Rabbat, MD, pediatric allergist at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

“There are different types of allergies, but if you notice that your child has more symptoms and reactions during the spring it’s a clue that they have a pollen allergy."

When warmer weather starts to roll in, most kids are ready to shake off cabin fever and get outside to play. It’s also the time when trees and plants are pollinating - a bad combination for a child with a pollen allergy.

“It’s great to get kids outside and exercising, but if your child has outdoor allergies just be sure to keep an eye on them in case of a reaction,” Rabbat said. “For children with allergies to pollen, symptoms most likely will be worse on dry, windy days."

According to Rabbat, allergy symptoms include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy and/or runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Asthma

“If your child’s allergy symptoms are interfering with his or her daily life, there is no reason to let the child suffer. Allergy symptoms are very treatable. Some people think it’s just something they need to ‘live with,’ but that’s not the case,” Rabbat said.

If a child has a seasonal allergy, Rabbat suggests the following to help limit reactions.

  • Check pollen counts and try to spend less time outside when the counts are high. Loyola has an official allergy count you can follow on Twitter @GottliebAllergy
  • Keep windows and doors closed, especially on high count days, to limit the amount of pollen that settles onto furniture and carpet
  • Use the air conditioner to filter pollens from the air inside your house
  • When children come in from outdoors have them wash their face and hands; consider having them take a shower and change their clothes to get pollen off the body

“If your child is active outdoors or in sports, make sure he or she takes allergy medication before heading outside,” Rabbat said.

Rabbat warns parents to keep an eye out for asthma symptoms as many children who deal with allergies have allergic asthma as well.

Allergic asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Feeling a tightness in the chest

“Often treating children’s allergies helps to control their asthma as well. Kids may need to take an allergy medicine before going outside, or they may need daily allergy medication. It’s also important to get ahead of your allergy symptoms. Once allergies are flaring, they become more difficult to treat. If you are on a good medication regimen before the pollens peak, it makes for a much more enjoyable season,” Rabbat said.

For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at epolsley@lumc.edu or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.