Tips For Helping Your Child With Allergies Or Asthma Feel Their Best This School Year
The start of the new school year is a pretty busy time for us here at Exhale. We hear from a lot of parents around this time of year that their child wakes up feeling under the weather and isn’t getting their day started off on the right foot the way every parent hopes. Others start the day off feeling okay but are unusually drained by the end of the school day and they can’t figure out what’s wrong. Is it a growth spurt making them tired, a cold going around, maybe they’re not getting enough sleep or enough for lunch to sustain them all day or maybe their allergies or asthma is suddenly getting worse? They worry that it’s all of that. We all know that having allergies or asthma is rough and can really take a toll on us mentally and emotionally, but it can be particularly hard for little ones trying to make the best of their symptoms while they’re at school trying to soak up all of that new information being thrown at them. Parents who are concerned that their child is suffering from allergy or asthma symptoms and maybe even falling behind start searching for answers and solutions to the question – what can I do to help my child feel better if they’re already on medication?
Manage Their Allergen Exposure
Your child will be exposed to so many allergens while they’re at school or outside playing sports. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about that. Thankfully there are a number of things you can do in your home, the place your child spends the most time, to help manage their triggers so they aren’t as impacted by the new triggers they’re exposed to outside of your home.
- Allergen Testing – So, you’ve visited the allergist, done skin testing and figured out your child’s medication needs. What now? Though this allergy/asthma journey can sometimes be a long and very frustrating one, knowing what your child is allergic to is half the battle, so you’re off to a great start! For some parents those first steps are all they need – it works perfectly and their child only experiences occasional symptoms that are easily shut down with their medication. However, for a large number of people with allergies and asthma, continued disappointment follows when medication isn’t providing the solution to the symptoms in the way they thought it would. We’ve all been there! You feel like you’ve done everything but your child still feels like crap and you aren’t sure what else there is to do. Well, that’s typically a good time to consider testing your home or child’s bedroom for allergens.
- Testing your home or their bedroom helps you find out exactly what allergens are causing the problem. Maybe it’s dog allergen hanging out in the pillows from the last time your child played with their grandparents poodle a month ago. Maybe there are dust mites living and feeding off of your kids’ skin flakes that have settled into their mattress or maybe it’s just a little pollen that made its way in after the kids played outside yesterday. The point is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you do know. Once you know exactly what the problem is, you can take the right steps to remove the specific allergens that your child is allergic to instead of exhausting your energy and wallet paying for all the possible solutions. There’s no need to rip up the carpet or move into a new home if the problem is just a little mold growing under the sink in the kitchen.
- Thorough Cleaning – Clean everything! Ok, maybe that’s not realistic but focus on the things you don’t often clean. Curtains, rugs, decorative pillows, pet beddings and couch covers are things that typically spend the least amount of time in the washing machine, which is exactly why they can carry some really old allergens. Wipe down window shades, ceiling fans. Vacuum carpets and couches. Don’t forget to toss those beloved teddy bears in the wash too! And make sure you dry everything on high heat. Not many people line dry clothes outside anymore but if you do, you’ll definitely want to make the switch. Putting those clothes outside just brings all of the allergens you’re hoping to avoid into your house like you wouldn’t believe. Think of holiday projects involving glitter – it gets on everything and never comes off! Thankfully, allergens wash out but you get the idea.
- Daily Showering – We know getting your kid or kids into the shower every night isn’t always realistic but hear us out. Allergens are incredibly sticky things that make their way onto our hair, clothes, and skin – sometimes just by walking by someone who had those allergens on them. We then come home and bring all of those allergens that are bothersome, right into our living room and bedrooms. Then we get cozy in a bed full of the very things that cause our allergy and asthma symptoms. Showering and washing your hair before bed helps greatly reduce the number of allergens that make their way into your sleep sanctuaries.
- Air Purifiers – If your child’s allergy/asthma symptoms have been abnormally bad, you may want to consider using a HEPA air purifier in your child’s bedroom. It doesn’t hurt to have them in other areas of the home where your child spends the most time – like the living room or playrooms. Full disclosure, that can get a little pricey as they’re not the cheapest solution but if you’ve tried everything else and symptoms are really getting in the way, this might be a product worth considering.
- Keep Windows Closed – I know when the weather finally breaks and the wind starts blowing cool air again, the first thing I want to do is open the windows and let that fresh air in. Unfortunately, for allergy and asthma sufferers like myself, this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Opening windows means letting every allergen that’s just floating around in your neighborhood right into your home. You’d be surprised by the allergens we’ve found that the homeowners weren’t expecting to find. Think there’s no way you could have cat allergen in your home because you don’t have one? Wrong! The cat who lives two doors down could have allergens in your home believe it or not! Even worse than cat allergen, you could be letting mouse, mold and roach allergen into your home just by trying to let some fresh air in.
- Monitor Pollen Counts – It’s very important to keep an eye on the pollen count in your area. Nearly every weather app offers a feature that tells you if pollen is high in your area but if you’re looking to find more specific information like what the count is for certain species of pollen, mold or grass, you can visit the AAAAI.org pollen count page here. Just select your region and the city with the closest pollen count station.
If the pollen count is high:
- Keep kids indoors as much as possible to avoid asthma attacks and increased allergy symptoms.
- If possible, change your clothes and shoes before coming into the home on high pollen count days as well. Try to take your shoes off before walking into the home every day. So very many things can be trampled into carpeting and hardwood surfaces and crevices from out shoes.
- Make sure everyone, even those in the family who don’t have allergies, takes a shower before getting comfortable on the couch, getting into bed, or even rolling around on the carpet to keep from transferring those allergens.
Just putting it out there – we do allergen testing and we do a pretty good job at it! So, if you’ve tried everything and aren’t seeing the relief you were hoping medication and products you’ve tried would bring, it may be time to consider testing your home for allergens. We can help you really get to the bottom of what might be going on with your homes air. We know you’re busy and your hands are probably super full with a million things so we make testing super easy and we’re here to help through the whole process. We’ll send the device to your home, all you do is plug it in and let it run for 5 days on a table in the room of your choice (feel free to reach out if you’re not sure which room to choose). Then send it back in the prepaid box and we’ll do the hard work in the lab. Once your results are ready, we’ll jump on a call with you to talk about your specific concerns and your home environment so we can focus on the allergens that matter to you and your family so you can save all of your energy for chasing your kiddos around and scrubbing that Crayola masterpiece off the wall again!
Check out our website Exhalenow.com for more info on how our service works. Please feel free to reach out if you’re still unsure or have any questions!
Katie & The Exhale Team