Allergy Season and School - What is your plan?
February 7th, 2022
Spring is on the horizon for many of us in the Southern United States. For the parents of allergy suffering kids, this is a time for check ups, medicines and the countless forms required by school. I know! What a pain!
But, it is what it is.
The goal for parents, providers and educators is to limit missed or unproductive school days due to asthma and allergies and to get the most out of the learning environment for all children. We can work together to make sure allergic children stay healthy. To suffer from congestion and wheeze will limit adversely one's focus and ability to attend a classroom event.
The downstream effects will be lost productivity that compounds over time slowing the education process that leads to a successful outcome.
Prevention of disease and physiological dysfunction remains the key to a successful and healthy life. For allergy sufferers, quality nutrition, desensitization therapy and trigger avoidance are the mainstays of therapy.
Here are some important tips to consider this spring:
1) Start all medicines, supplements and treatments BEFORE the season of the child's trigger allergens begins. Compliance is the key to success, especially when it comes to asthma medicines! The prevention based medicines (not albuterol) are the keys to avoiding flairs and missed days of school for the child and work for the parent. Inhaled metered dose corticosteroids used with a spacer device are critical in the fight against lung inflammation that causes lung tube constriction, wheezing and missed school days. Always use medicines as directed especially including these spacer devices for inhalers. These procedures are critical to success as the medicines do not reach the distal lung tissue without spacer use and efficacy is thereby reduced.
2) Help your child know what they react to and teach them to avoid these triggers. Think of a glass of water as a glass of triggers. If it is overflowing, then you are sick. Therefore, if you eliminate some of the water via trigger avoidance and quality nutrition, then you can exercise or even catch a viral cold and still avoid an overflow state meaning less congestion and asthma symptoms. For example, use dust covers on mattresses and pillows while also dusting carefully in all high use spaces. The dust allergy sufferer will benefit tremendously from these actions. Allergy Avoidance Link, Link
3) If your child is taking sub lingual allergy prevention drops or receives sub cutaneous allergy injections, then make sure that they are taking them as directed which is usually three times a day for SLIT and as per your allergist for the shots . These therapies retrain the immune system to not over react to common environmental triggers. Allergy Choices in La Crosse, Wisconsin provides an excellent service for those looking to start this SLIT type therapy. See below for a link. This is a large part of the allergen avoidance pathway for our patients.
4) Discuss your child's allergy and asthma triggers with his or her teacher in order to have an avoidance plan for the coming year. Visit the school classroom and attempt to identify known triggers and have them eliminated if possible, i.e. mold, dust, foods, etc.. It is never too late to do this. Consider getting a Propeller Health inhaler tracker for disease learning and mitigation. This GPS based device tracks albuterol inhaler use which can give you clues to where and when a child has asthma symptom flairs. The location honing may help a patient eliminate hot spots for triggers. These types of devices should be the future of medicine for all asthmatic patients.
5) If your child has a food allergy, there is a critical education need for the school and cafeteria employees to be aware of the food antigen triggers. Have your child meet with the staff so as to encourage a sense of comfort in asking questions when s/he is in the food line. Make sure that your child understands the risk of food trading. Many anaphylactic events occur because of unsuspected food trading. Controlling the total allergy burden in the body through mitigation measures can help reduce a food induced negative accidental outcome. Emergency plans and preparation are the key to survival for food allergies and asthma or the combination. Have a prevention and treatment meeting with the nurse, teacher, child, coach, staff and anyone that may be a part of the child's day.
6) As always, avoiding processed foods while consuming an anti inflammatory diet is the key to reducing the inflammation in the body that worsens all disease. If you listened to the recent Podcast with Dr. Rick Johnson, you gained a bolus of knowledge around fructose and sugar consumption. The simple answer is that excessive fructose ingestion as soda, sweet tea, juice, sugared milks, etc... drives survival reactions that promote inflammation. This inflammation will show up in your disease as worsened congestion, wheeze and the like.
Daily - It all starts in the gut. Diet is the key. Dramatically increase your consumption of colored vegetables and fruits for the micronutrients that they are loaded with. Green leafy vegetables and berries are highest on the list of beneficial foods. Lots of fiber promotes healthy bacteria that dampen the immune system and enhance healing. The inherent antioxidants in the plant foods drives reduced inflammatory responses systemically.
Reduce animal protein intake which can over stimulate the immune system and keep the body inflamed. Always choose grass fed and hormone free meats the way they were intended to be consumed. When you ingest beef that is finished with corn, you cause more inflammation to your gut and worsen your allergies. Avoid dairy where possible as many allergy sufferers respond poorly to dairy intake.
Consider reducing high histamine laden foods that provide a fuel source for the allergic reaction. Aged and fermented foods are higher in histamine. Older and leftover foods are often higher in histamine. Aged cheese, cured meats, shellfish can be especially troublesome for allergy sufferers. The simple answer here is that fresh is best. Link to Histamine food education.
Consuming omega 3 fats as fish oil or small oily fish in your diet is a good way to reduce the eicosanoid inflammatory overload in allergies. Americans are flooded with omega 6 fats that are pro-inflammatory while we are insufficient in the beneficial omega 3 fats based on historical norms.
Immunologically, the key here is to avoid innate and adaptive immune over activation by avoiding large volumes of refined sugar, flour and saturated/omega 6 fats. Otherwise known as avoiding processed foods.
7) Look into herbal supplements like D Hist, Pure TH2 Modulator or Zyflammend for allergy immune reduction. Only use with the guidance of your provider.
8) Talk to your provider about the benefits of a high quality probiotic like Klaire Labs Ther Biotic for gut health. Vitamin D and zinc sufficiency are very important for a healthy immune system. It is worth testing these micronutrient levels and supplementing as needed. I really see great responses to immune health with better macro and micro nutrient sufficiency.
9) A very useful therapy for allergic rhinitis is nasal washing. Use a neti pot or sinus rinse with sterile water to clear out allergens twice daily. Consider a shower to wash off pollen after being outdoors for a while.
10) I am a big fan of sublingual immunotherapy, SLIT, which has proven especially helpful for children with eczema, asthma, and recurrent ear infections. These disorders often have underlying allergic causes. I have been using SLIT with my patients for years with great results. We know that treating children for specific allergies including dust mite, pollens and food can significantly benefit conditions such as eczema and allergic rhinitis. Link to Allergy Choices SLIT