Sleep Tight: Helping Kids Rest in Allergy Season
New Jammies parents know how allergies can make us miserable in the Spring months. During this season of rebirth and renewal, we are also mindful of how our kids are affected.
Especially during sleeptime.
“Nasal congestion, which causes the upper airway to narrow, increases the risk of both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea among allergic rhinitis patients,” says the National Sleep Foundation. “The good news is that reducing nasal inflammation may reduce symptoms of snoring and OSA as well as daytime fatigue and sleepiness, according to at least one study.”
The National Sleep Foundation says allergic rhinitis (allergies) may occur year-round or seasonally. Airborne particles from trees, grass, ragweed, or outdoor mold typically trigger the latter.
“Causes of year-round allergic rhinitis include indoor substances such as pet dander, indoor mold, cockroach and dust mites in bedding, mattresses, and carpeting,” says the Foundation. “Allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens in the air are breathed by a patient that is allergic to them, irritating and inflaming the nasal passages.”
The Foundation says these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. This can be tough when childen try to sleep, causing a long night.
For the kids and Mom and Dad.
“These symptoms can lead to poor sleep, which can result in significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue, ” the NSF says.
In some children, allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms, including wheezing or difficulty breathing and sleeping. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, up to 40 percent of children suffer from allergies. Kids are more likely to develop them if one or both parents have allergies, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If a child has allergies and asthma, “not controlling the allergies can make asthma worse,” says Anthony Durmowicz, M.D., a pediatric pulmonary doctor in FDA’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products.
The FDA regulates both over-the-counter and prescription medicines that offer allergy relief, as well as allergen extracts used to diagnose and treat allergies. The FDA reminds parents that they should take particular care when giving these products to children.
And to follow these tips in helping children cope with the allergy season:
• If your child has seasonal allergies, you may want to pay attention to pollen counts and try to keep your child inside when the levels are high.
• In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.
• Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal.
• Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.
• It may also help to keep windows closed in your house and car and run the air conditioner.
If your child is experiencing seasonal or environmental allergies, contact a pediatrician or family doctor, who may recommend an allergist and suggest a treatment plan. For more information on seasonal allergies in children, click here.
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