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Keeping Your Kids Asthma and Allergy Free

Keeping Your Kids Asthma and Allergy FreeMilwaukee, WI (SafetyAlerts) - Each year asthma and allergies take their toll on a large percent of the American population. More then 35 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever," while another 17 million Americans suffer from asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Considered the most common chronic childhood disease, asthma also affects nearly five million children in the United States. What most people don't realize is that children with asthma also tend to suffer from allergies.

Preventing Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is triggered by allergens, or airborne irritants such as pollen, mold, animal dander or dust mites. This causes sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic disease. Allergic diseases develop at any age, and heredity plays a key role in who will develop an allergy. If one parent has an allergic disease, the estimated risk of the child developing allergies is 48%; if both parents have allergies, the child's risk jumps to 70%.

"It's impossible to completely eliminate all the things that might trigger a child's allergies, but taking steps to delay the child's exposure to certain allergens may help," said David Patterson, M.D., Fellow of the AAAAI. To help reduce the risk for developing allergic rhinitis, allergists recommend you take the following steps to reduce the levels of allergens in your home:

Dust Mites

  • Use zippered, plastic covers on pillows and mattresses to reduce the presence of dust mites,

  • Minimize the number of stuffed animals kept in the bedroom,

  • Remove carpet from the child's bedroom,

  • Wash bedding and stuffed animals in hot water (130 1F) weekly and

  • Keep indoor relative humidity below 50% to inhibit dust mite growth.

Indoor Mold

  • Fix leaky faucets and pipes,

  • Avoid vaporizers and

  • Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50%.

Cockroach allergens

  • Do not leave food or garbage exposed and

  • Use boric acid traps.

Animal dander

  • Remove furry pet from the home to prevent exposure particularly in the first year of life,

If the pet can not be removed from the home

  • Keep the pet out of the infant's bedroom,

  • Frequently vacuum rooms where the pet lives and

  • Wash the pet weekly to decrease the amount of dander, urine and dried saliva.

Your role in avoiding asthma
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. Children with a family history of allergy or asthma are at risk for developing asthma. Studies show that up to 80% of children with asthma develop symptoms before the age of five, thus the more subtle signs of asthma, such as chest tightness, often are not identified early on, according to Patterson. The only observable symptoms a child with asthma may have are a cough, rapid or noisy breathing, and chest congestion. "A parent may notice that their child has less energy then other children during active playtime or the child may try to limit physical activities to prevent coughing or wheezing. A child's allergist relies heavily on parents' observations to determine the signs of asthma and make a proper diagnosis," Patterson said.

There are two forms of asthma. Allergic asthma, which is triggered by many of the same allergens that trigger other allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis. Nonallergic asthma is triggered by substances that aggravate the nose and airways, but do not necessarily trigger allergies. These irritants may include smoke, strong odors such as perfumes or household cleaners, other airborne particles such as coal or chalk dust, changing weather conditions and strenuous physical exercise.

Parents should take the following steps to reduce their child's risk for developing asthma:

  • Use dust mite control measures,

  • Limit exposure to furry animals,

  • Do not smoke around the child or in the child's home,

  • Eliminate wood stoves and fire places and

  • Breast feeding your infant strengthens the child's immune system against becoming overly sensitized to allergens.

Preventing Food Allergies
Approximately 2-4% of children experience allergic reactions to foods. The most common food, responsible for up to 90% of all allergic reactions, are cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, seafood and tree nuts. Allergic reactions to food may produce symptoms such as hives or eczema. Food allergy suffers may also experience symptoms such as sneezing, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and difficulty breathing.

The best strategy for preventing food allergies is to avoid the specific food that triggers the allergy. Allergists recommend:

  • breast feeding infants for four to six months (breast milk is less likely to produce allergic reactions and it strengthens the immune system),

  • delaying exposing infants to potentially allergenic foods and liquids, such as cow's milk, peanuts and fish, until the child is one year old,

  • introduce infants to new foods one at a time so parents can identify and eliminate any foods that cause allergic reaction,

  • reading food labels and becoming familiar with scientific names for food,

An allergist/immunologist can provide you with more information on preventing allergies and asthma. If you suspect your child has allergies or asthma, an allergist can diagnose and treat allergies and asthma in your child. To find an allergist/immunologist in your area or to learn more about allergies and asthma, call the AAAAI's Physician Referral and Information Line at 1-800-822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States, representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has more then 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

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