Back-to-school can be an intense time. Not only does it mark the end of summer vacation and bring excitement about the coming year, but it can also make children feel anxious and uncertain about the new challenges ahead.
If your child or teen has allergies to food or insect venom, it's crucial to immediately inform their new teachers and other staff at the beginning of the school year and to give them a copy of your updated anaphylaxis emergency protocol (with a photo of the child). It's also a good time to review proper use of the adrenaline auto-injector, confirm where it will be kept and verify the use-by date. Preventative measures should be reviewed at this time as well, including frequent washing of hands and work surfaces, verifying the ingredients of foods given to children and teaching children to never share food.
Back-to-school also coincides with ragweed pollen season (from August to the first frost). To help children and teens with allergies to ragweed, it is important to take some necessary measures, such as keeping windows closed and not hanging clothes to dry outside. Since most schools don't have air conditioning, generally keep windows open and organize many recreational and sporting events outside, it is important to do whatever possible to improve the quality of life for these youth as rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms can impact their school performance. The use of non-drowsy antihistamines could help relieve symptoms like sneezing, itchy nose, and prickly, watery eyes, while the use of nasal corticosteroids may help control congestion and eyedrops could help ease irritated eyes (if prescribed by a doctor).
Asthmatic children and teens are also particularly sensitive at this time of year. In fact, hospital emergency rooms see more visits for treatment of bronchial spasms in September than in any other month. There are numerous contributing factors, including increased risk of respiratory infection due to rhinoviruses transmitted by close contact in classrooms and school buses, and increased stress caused by back-to-school and elevated pollen counts. It is also important to resume preventative treatments that may have been interrupted during the summer season; specifically, begin using inhaled corticosteroids and/or antileukotrienes from mid-August to prepare your child for the most trying season for respiratory ailments.
Children who are predisposed to allergies also tend to suffer from concurrent cases of eczema (atopic dermatitis) and may experience flare-ups following high levels of humidity or pollen, or even stress. Daily use of a neutral moisturizing cream during a flare-up, as well as a topical corticoid and/or calcineurin inhibitor (if prescribed by a doctor), could also provide relief.
In conclusion, a child predisposed to allergies may be vulnerable to having one or more other allergy symptoms triggered during the back-to-school season. To help your children enjoy this exciting time of year, controlling the environment to reduce contact with allergens is the best way to help them cope with symptoms.
The views expressed are solely those of the author based on his knowledge and expertise and do not necessarily represent the views of the manufacturer.
If you think you are experiencing allergy symptoms, please consult your healthcare professional for a definitive diagnosis.