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Controlling exposure to allergens is a challenge at home, but with careful steps, it is doable. However, in public spaces, minimizing exposure becomes more of a challenge.
Controlling the potential allergens and exposure on a bustling playground teeming with kids is nearly impossible. From pet dander to peanut butter, other children on the playground may have remnants of their time spent with their pet or their lunch on their clothing or skin. When in close contact with your allergic child, this poses a problem.
How do you control the potential exposure and address the challenges of playgrounds? While you can’t control every aspect of the playground, you can take steps to minimize exposure and sensitivity to help your child remain happy and social.
Managing Allergies in Public Settings
Parents of children with allergies, particularly severe allergies, face numerous challenges in public settings. Controlling exposure in public places is difficult, as people and objects may carry the allergen, such as pet dander, bee venom, or pollen. Children on playgrounds interacting with your child, objects handled by others, and more – many people and things can carry allergens.
The uncontrollable nature of public spaces requires parents to be vigilant, ensuring they have the necessary medication on hand in case of an emergency. This is particularly true of parents with children who have severe allergies, as exposures and the resulting reactions can be life-threatening.
Be sure to pack any necessary allergy medications or treatments with you when you go to the playground. This could include things like antihistamines, inhalers, or epinephrine auto-injectors. It’s also a good idea to make sure your child knows how to use their epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.
Minimizing Exposure to allergens at the playground
One of the most important things is to be aware of the allergens that your child is sensitive to. This could include things like pollen, grass, mold, or certain types of food, such as peanut butter.
Once you know what your child is allergic to, you can take steps to minimize their exposure. For example, if your child is allergic to pollen, you may want to avoid going to the playground on days when the pollen count is high. You could also make sure that your child takes their allergy medication before heading out to play.
Another way to minimize your child’s exposure to allergens at the playground is to choose the right equipment. Look for play structures that are made from materials that are less likely to trigger allergies, such as plastic or metal. You may also want to avoid playgrounds that have a lot of sand or wood chips, as these materials can be easily contaminated with peanut butter residue and harbor mold and other allergens.
One of the first things you can do is to check with the school or park to see if they have a peanut-free policy. If they don’t, you may want to consider packing your own snacks and avoiding any shared equipment that may have come in contact with peanut butter. Another way to minimize your child’s exposure to peanut butter at the playground is to teach them to avoid sharing food or utensils with other children. When choosing a playground, look for one that has a separate area for eating and drinking to reduce the chance of peanut butter contamination.
Alternative Allergy Treatments Suitable for Children
Parents can choose from various allergy medications designed to treat the pesky symptoms accompanying allergies. However, while these medications can help minimize discomfort associated with the symptoms, they don’t address the root problem: the allergy.
This is where alternative allergy treatments come in. Various treatments, such as acupuncture and specific herbal supplements, have been used to tackle allergies. However, allergy immunotherapy stands out as a popular, safe, and effective choice among the options.
Allergy immunotherapy (AIT) is a treatment designed to “train” the body not to be as sensitive to a particular allergen. It achieves these results by administering an incrementally increasing dose to the body, slowly decreasing sensitivity to the allergen. The doses can be administered under the tongue (sublingually) via tablet or drops or by injection (subcutaneously).
AIT requires a long-term commitment, as it takes time for the body to readjust and reduce its reaction to an allergen. However, allergy immunotherapy can be well worth the journey for those sick of dealing with allergies or seeking a solution to their child’s allergies. Most begin to notice results within a year, but the best results often appear within the second and third years.
Some people may need to continue the treatment to reap the benefits, while others may discontinue without losing their reduced sensitivity.
If you’re considering allergy immunotherapy for your child, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) may be a solid option. Unlike subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), SLIT doesn’t involve needles, injections, and frequent visits to the doctor’s office. Instead, it can usually be administered at home via tablets or drops. This makes it an excellent option for kids who are wary of needles.
Efficacy of Allergy Immunotherapy
Allergy immunotherapy is proven to be highly effective for treating various allergies. It’s not a new treatment and has been around for over 100 years, with its initial introduction dating back to 1911. Over the years, researchers and healthcare professionals have studied the treatment, unveiling its efficacy through various research and clinical trials.
Some studies focus specifically on pediatric immunotherapy, or SCIT and SLIT, for children. It has been shown to be helpful for allergic rhinitis in asthma, helping children find relief from pesky allergies.
Many parents echo the success of these studies by sharing their experiences and stories, showcasing how remarkable these treatments can be in relieving allergies in children and adults alike.
Integrating Alternative Treatments into Your Child’s Routine
Taking the first steps toward integrating treatments into your child’s routine can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with what to expect. Your role as a parent is key in the process, as your child may not yet have the capacity to decide independently.
Before you select a treatment option, talk to your child’s primary healthcare physician to discuss viable options based on your child’s allergy and its severity.
Your doctor can discuss the potential side effects of the treatment and what you can expect in the days, weeks, and months of treatment. If your child is old enough to understand the ins and outs of the treatment options, discussing them can help your child feel more involved in the process, potentially helping them stick to the treatment.
Once you select a treatment, make it part of your child’s routine. For example, if you choose allergy immunotherapy, administer the dose at the same time each day as directed by your doctor. This can make the treatment routine for your child a constant instead of a variable.
Managing a child’s allergies, particularly in public spaces, can be challenging, but alternative treatments can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life. Before integrating a treatment into your child’s life, you should consult with a healthcare professional, involve your child in the treatment process, and make it a part of their daily routine. With the right approach, you can help your child live a happy and healthy life despite their allergies.
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