Allergy & Asthma
The incidence of allergies in children is 10% and 20-30% in adults. However, if one parent has allergies, the incidence for the child of that parent increases to 30%, and if both parents have allergies, the child’s incidence jumps to 65-70% chance of developing allergies. There is no racial or ethnic variation in the incidence, however, heredity is a big factor.
Some of the common allergens are pollen (grasses, trees, weeds and mold in the Spring and ragweed in the Fall), dust mites, cat dog and animal dander, medication, food and bee venom. The symptoms of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) are sneezing, running nose, excessive eye redness, blinking, post nasal drip and nasal congestion. Similar to allergic rhinitis is allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the eyes react to allergens with symptoms of reddening, itching and swelling.
Medical evaluation at an allergy office include testing procedures. There are 2 types of tests, a skin test and Rast test (requires blood draw).
Treatment for allergies include: 1. avoidance, avoidance, avoidance (this is the biggest, try to avoid what you are allergic to if possible), 2. medications – what’s available? – non-sedating antihistamines – liquid, pill and reditab, 3. nasal spray, and 4. Immunotherapy – “Allergy Shots”.
Taken from handout from Allergy & Asthma Specialists, P.C.
Guest speaker: Joanne Gzywacz, Director of Nursing
Asthma affects more than 12 million Americans and is one of the leading causes of school and work absences. More than $6 million is spent each year on health care for asthma. Although its exact cause remains a mystery, many treatment options are available to control and reverse this chronic inflammatory obstruction of the lungs’ airways.
What is Asthma? Asthma occurs when the linings of airways become inflamed and swollen and muscle spasms constrict airflow to the lungs. An “asthma attack” is characterized by labored or restricted breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing and wheezing. The condition can develop quickly and may vary in severity from mild discomfort to life-threatening attacks in which breathing stops altogether. Sometimes, chronic cough is the only symptom, and many cases of the disease go undiagnosed.
Who gets Asthma? Asthma can occur at any age and is more common in children than adults. Heredity plays a role, but becomes less important when asthma begins in adults. In young children, boys are nearly twice as likely to develop asthma as girls, but this sex difference tends to disappear in older age groups.What causes Asthma? People generally think of asthma in terms of episodes or attacks. Actually the asthmatic condition is always present, but symptoms may be dormant until triggered by an allergen, respiratory infection, or cold weather. Other triggers may include aspirin, environmental irritants, physical exertion and, less commonly, food additives and preservatives
Allergens are substances that cause no problem for a majority of people but which trigger an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. They are a major source of breathing problems and other physical symptoms in both children and adults. Common allergens include plant pollen (tree, grass and weed), dander from pets and other animals, house dust mites, molds and certain foods. When an allergic individual comes in contact with one of these allergens, a complicated series of events causes the body to release chemicals called mediators. These mediators often trigger asthma episodes.
Cold air, smoke, industrial chemicals, perfume and paint and gasoline fumes are all examples of environmental irritants that can provoke asthma. The irritants probably trigger asthma symptoms by stimulating irritant receptors in the respiratory tract. These receptors, in turn, cause the muscles surrounding the airway to constrict, resulting in an asthma attack.
Viral respiratory infections are the leading cause of acute asthma attacks. Surprisingly, bacterial infections with the exception of sinusitis, do not bring about asthma attacks. Some people with “heartburn” can have asthma symptoms when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus.
Aspirin and aspirin-containing products can trigger asthma attacks in susceptible individuals. Five percent of people with asthma experience a significant decrease in their lung function after taking aspirin. Similar reactions can occur with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen. As a general rule, people with asthma should avoid these products.
Another type of prescription medication that can cause problems in persons with asthma is the group of medications called “beta-blockers”, which often are prescribed for high blood pressure, glaucoma, migraine headaches and angina. Beta-blockers can cause airway constriction called broncho-spasm, so it is important to consult your physician about use of these medications.
Source: Allergy & Asthma Specialists, P.C.
Back to School with Allergies & Asthmla
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Children with allergies & asthma frequently have reactions to triggers in the classroom. “Parents with children suffering from allergies or asthma should be concerned,” says Michael Zacharisen, MD, fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Parents of allergic and asthmatic children need to take special steps to prepare their child and their child’s teachers for the new school year.
Allergies & asthma are among the most common chronic condition in the United States. Nearly 5 million children in the US have asthma and millions more have allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Children miss about 2 million school days each year because of allergy symptoms and 10 million school days because of asthma symptoms.
Triggers and Symptoms in the Classroom. Allergies & asthma can be triggered by allergens, ordinarily harmless substances like pollen, dust mites, and mold spores. Allergens at school that can cause an allergic or asthmatic reaction include dust mites, chalk dust, animal dander from class pets or pet hair on student’s clothing, exercise and pollen and molds.
Children with allergies may experience congestion, a runny nose or itchy, watery eyes when they are exposed to the allergens to which they are sensitive. When children with asthma come in contact with their triggers, they may experience coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightness.
“The key to reducing the severity of symptoms a child experiences at school is avoidance,” states Dr. Zacharisen. “Parents need to make school personnel aware of their child’s asthma or allergy triggers so they can help the child avoid them.”
Appropriate treatment is key. Allergy and asthma symptoms sparked by triggers in the classroom can interfere with participation in sports, school trips, physical education and play activities. Allergies & asthma can also interfere with a child’s energy level, concentration, attention, peer relations, physical activities and cognitive functioning.
“If you or your child’s teacher notices your child is having difficulty concentrating in school or isn’t able to participate in physical activities, it may be a sign of improper treatment,” Dr. Zacharisen says. “Children with well-controlled allergies and asthma can fully participate in all school activities. Just because a child has asthma or allergies doesn’t mean they have to suffer with them.
Access to medication at school. Students with asthma frequently have a sudden onset of symptoms from a variety of causes. In most cases, these asthma episodes can be
Prevented or treated with inhaled medications. For students to be able to function normally at school, it is critical that prescribed medications be available to them at all times during the school day.
Communication is critical. “The key to a healthy school year is communication,” cautions Dr. Zacharisen. “It is critical to a child’s health and success at school that parents explain their child’s condition to teachers and school officials.”
Students with allergies & asthma should have a “School Management Plan” on file at school. This plan, developed with the child’s doctor, should contain detailed information about the child’s condition, including triggers, medications, and what to do in an emergency.
Food allergy. Food allergies are a special concern for many parents. Up to 2 million children in the US have food allergies. The most common symptoms of an allergies reaction to food is hives. Food allergic individuals can also experience asthma-like symptoms, eczema and other gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. The most severe reaction to food is anaphylaxis, a systemic reaction that can sometimes be fatal.
Some of the most common foods that can trigger an allergic reaction are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. Strict avoidance of the foods to which a child is sensitive is the only proven therapy for food allergy, but it is difficult to achieve complete avoidance of an allergic food. Traces of problem foods can be hidden or accidentally ingested; however, it is possible to reduce a student’s exposure to allergenic foods within the school setting.
“Staff members involved with the child’s care should be instructed about which foods the child needs to avoid, the potentially severe nature of food allergy, and proper treatment of allergic reactions,” warns Dr. Zacharisen. “If prescribed
Food allergic students should have an epinephrine auto-injector devise clearly labeled with the child’s name and classroom number. School personnel should also be instructed about the location of the medication and how to administer it if an allergic reaction should occur.”
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