Honey - There is NO proof it helps.

Some parents swear by local honey as an all-natural immunotherapy. (It's safe for kids 12 months and older.)  If regular exposure to allergens is how immunotherapy strengthens a patient's immune system, shouldn't a tasty substance laden with pollens from your local area have the same effect?

Unlike immunotherapy, honey doesn't contain consistent levels of pollen.  There are few scientific studies of honey and allergies, and the ones that exist have no proof of any benefiting results.  Research has shown that any honey works as well as medicine for cough (given by teaspoon on an as-needed basis).  That said, it has to be the yummiest unproven therapy out there.

Parents - May 2016

Kids ages 5 and older can try a new treatment.

When I was a child one of the only things that helped my allergies was getting "allergy shots," properly called immunotherapy or AIT.  Even today, shots are usually given one time every week for three to five years and act much like a vaccine, offering exposure to increasing levels of the substance you're allergic to so your immune system adapts and becomes less reactive.

Parents - May 2016

Winter has a big effect on allergies.

Cold winter weather is a blessing for many kids with seasonal allergies, who can count on a break until at least February. A warmer winter can cause plants to pollinate early, meaning sufferers' symptoms start up sooner than usual.  A rainy spring can also promote rapid plant growth and lead to an increase in mold, with effects that last well into the fall.  Rain can wash away pollen, but the relief is only temporary, since pollen counts can rise rapidly following wet weather.

Other weather clues that may help you to head off your child's worst symptoms.  Warm, windy days generally lead to a high pollen count, whereas calm days can leave all that pollen on the ground rather than flying into your child's nose.

Parents May 2016

Pollen counts don't tell the whole story.

If your child has had allergy testing, the results will be much more useful than relying on monitoring the overall pollen count.  If she's not allergic to ragweed, for example, then a high ragweed count shouldn't keep her off the playground.

Children who only have allergies in certain seasons are likely allergic to pollens or mold spores that appear at specific times of year.  Doctors can perform skin and/or blood tests to help you learn which types of pollen cause your child's flare-ups, and you can monitor pollen counts to know when to start medicines and, on the worst days, when to limit your child's time outdoors.  As a general rule, trees pollinate in the spring, grasses bloom in mid to late spring or early summer, and weeds in late summer or early fall.  In colder climates, mod spores are a summer to early-fall phenomenon, but in warm places, they can remain airborne year-around.

"Parents- May 2016"

Week 1- You should start medications earlier in the year than you may think.

If you are your child has seasonal allergies, you should ideally start the medicines at least two to three weeks before the beginning of the season ( which depends on his specific allergy) and continue them through the end.  If you have allergies year-round, talk to your doctor about keeping the medicines going all year rather than waiting for symptoms to flare up. 

Most allergy medicines are far more effective at preventing symptoms than they are at treating them once they start.  That's because the runny nose, stuffiness, itching, sneezing and watery eyes result from a whole cascade of events in the immune system, and once it gets going it's hard to stop.  Corticosteriod nose sprays, available over-the-counter, are the most effective type of medicines for allergies (ages 2 and older); they prevent the cascade by decreasing the immune system's response to antigens like dust mites and pollen.

Antihistamines can help relieve symptoms also. They are more effective if they are in bloodstream before the allergy attack.  They need about 5 days to reach their full strength and about 5 days to wear off completely.

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