Understanding seasonal allergies is fundamental to effective allergy management. The more you understand the what, why, when, and where associated with seasonal allergies, the better you can counsel and educate parents and children about ways to help reduce allergy symptoms. The ALLERGY acrostic below is designed to highlight the important things you should know and remember about allergies, as you counsel and support your young customers and their families.
Less contact with the allergens means fewer allergic reactions and reduced symptoms, and this can mean fewer treatments and medications. A vital part of managing an allergy is avoiding triggers and knowing what initiates allergic symptoms and what works to alleviate them. Symptom and treatment diaries can be especially helpful when tracking a child’s condition and discussing his or her condition with doctors. Once triggers are identified, the best thing to do is avoid the offending allergens as much as possible.
As Pharmacist you should educate parents and their children about their conditions and why the treatments are so important is critical. Parents and children can feel more confident and in control if they know and understand what they are dealing with. Encourage parents to talk to their child about their symptoms and treatments as this helps empower them to manage their symptoms themselves as they get older. There are numerous organizations, websites, and resources available to teach children and their families effective coping skills on how to better manage allergies. This is very important because the daily battle of trying to keep symptoms under control can unfortunately have a major impact on quality of life. Knowledge is power.
Listening to and adhering to medical advice about treating a child's allergies is paramount. Educate parents and children about the importance of not stopping prescribed medications without being instructed to do so. It is important for them to understand that medications and treatments help to control the symptoms of allergy rather than cure the underlying allergy itself. It’s all about managing a child's treatment and ensuring that they can have a full and productive life in spite of allergy symptoms. The consequences of discontinuing necessary medications are numerous: frustration and stress, struggle with school work, lack of energy or sleep, decreased self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, etc. This becomes a stressful situation for everyone involved. The best thing they can do is to continue medication unless advised otherwise.
Environmental and lifestyle modifications are often necessary to reduce the impact of offending allergens. Understanding how allergens and triggers affect specific children can help guide families to make the necessary changes. This may involve evaluating things in their home like carpets and pets, increasing the frequency of laundry and showers, changing the family diet, or avoiding the outdoors during peak pollen times. Either way, making some of these simple changes can make the difference between daily, out of control struggles and occasional, yet manageable episodes.
As children get older, they may need a higher dose or a different kind of medication or treatment in order to keep symptoms controlled effectively. Monitoring symptoms at home is crucial to recognizing changes in treatment effectiveness. Remind parents to keep regular appointments with doctors to discuss issues or changes as they arise. It is often as simple as the pediatrician increasing the dose or changing the medication to get their child’s symptoms under control and back on track. Then again, some children may outgrow allergies as they get older. This should be discussed with their health care provider as well. They wouldn’t want to continue giving children allergy medications unnecessarily. Revaluating the condition and the need for treatment is key.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) allergies have a genetic component. If only one parent has allergies of any type, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have an allergy. If both parents have allergies, the probability that their children will have allergies increases to 7 in 10. However, allergies are not exclusively hereditary and should be considered the result of a more multifaceted relationship between genetic predisposition and environmental exposure. In simple terms, that means there are both nature and nurture factors that play a role in allergic conditions. Remind parents that although they cannot control genetics, they can take some control of their child’s environment.
YYou are not alone!
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about 40 percent of children in the United States suffer from allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. Allergy is the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old. Encourage parents to reach out to online support groups or local health clinic groups that could help share experiences and successes in dealing with allergies. It helps to know that if they are struggling, there is a great chance that someone out there has experienced exactly what they are going through right now. Any bit of advice can help, so don’t need to go through this alone.