I never had allergies growing up - or at least I didn't think I did (or my parents did). Several years ago - before having kids - I had a HORRIBLE cold, or at least I thought it was a cold. It lasted for several months. And finally when it started to affect the way I was teaching and dealing with my students, I decided to go to the doctor. And to my surprise, the doctor told me that I had seasonal allergies and since I didn't do anything for months to combat the allergies, they had caused me to get a sinus infection. Who knew? As soon as I started allergy meds, most of my symptoms disappeared within the week. I felt like a new woman.
When Evan was born, a few months into his early life, I noticed that his nose got runny and a little stuffy when my allergies flared up. I was so disappointed that my son may have the same allergies I had grown into. I already had done some research - you know - Dr. Google to find ways of helping my allergies, so I started to implement those with him, especially until he was old enough to take medication. Of course I also discussed my concerns with his pediatrician. And he gave me some suggestions.
Here are a few things I do to help keep allergies at bay in our household so that we don't have this more often then I want:
- Keep the windows closed (especially spring and fall). I love having the windows open, the fresh, clean breeze flowing though out the house. But along with the wonderful smells of spring and fall also comes the extra pollen blowing in. So we opt to keep the air conditioning or fan running most of the time instead of opening the windows. I have to admit though, that I do open the windows occasionally because I do miss how it makes the house smell!
- Saline drops - I have to admit, these never really worked with Evan. But I now think it may have been user error or I didn't use them long enough or during the peak times of his allergies. I have a couple of twitter friends Pam and Lori, who introduced me to a product similar to a neti pot, a sinus rinse. But they told me I needed to use it religiously during the allergy season. And boy, once I started using it correctly, I could definitely tell a difference. And it is basically a saline solution. So I am pretty sure that if I used the saline drops more consistently, they probably would have worked with Evan.
- Night time bath/showers - my doctor told me this one. And it really makes sense, especially if you are outdoors a lot during the day. Before heading to bed, wash off the pollen that has accumulated on you and in your hair (or your kids). Of course, change your clothes also. But this way, the allergy sufferer is not breathing the pollen and not allowing the pollen to transfer on to the sheets and pillows!
- Taking the 24 hour medications at night when allergies tend to be worse. Again, this was a doctor suggestion. And it made sense to me. If you take the meds in the morning then they start wearing off during the night when you are sleeping, which causes you to wake up stuffy. Then you have to wait a little longer for the meds to get back in your system. By taking them at night, you can be more consistent on when you take them and the dose remains strong during the most important time, when your body is resting and renewing itself. Also it helps with sleeping because you (hopefully) stay congestion free.
- Use the dryer! Well, I LOVE hanging out my bedding to dry. It leaves such a crisp and clean smell to it! But what I didn't realize until a couple of years ago, is that when you air dry your laundry outside, the pollen is free to accumulate. And then you make your bed and sleep in it! DUH!! So no more hanging bedding out to dry!
- Finding an allergy medicine that works with your children. I had to try several different brands before finding the right one for Evan. Just like us, children react to different medications differently. So it can be a very long and hard trial period before finding the right one. And of course, discuss all options with your pediatrician before starting an allergy regimen!
- Keep children in when mowing the lawn, and keeping them off the lawn for the rest of they day. I am pretty sure that I have a grass allergy. Which means Evan probably does also. If I know I am going to mow the lawn, I make sure I take all my meds before heading out. The same is true with Evan. When he was younger, we did keep him inside, but now that he has a mind of his own and wants to be out when we are mowing, I make sure he gets a dose of medicine and a good bath at night!
- Subscribe to allergy alerts. I get mine from pollen.com. I get email alerts for my area, when pollen counts get to a certain level. This is a great tool to combat allergies daily but also to use it to track and find out which allergies your kids may be suffering from.
These are just a few ways I try to keep my kids comfortable and outdoors during the beautiful spring and fall months of the Midwest. I know I didn't cover every way, so it's your turn. Have you tried something with your kids that has worked, share it with us!