Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month: Tips for Parents


Spring is peak season for those of us who suffer from asthma and allergies. When sneezing, sniffling, and coughing becomes a crescendo of misery in your home, passing the tissue box may be insufficient. Over 6 million children suffer from asthma, and even more have to deal with seasonal allergies, which means that parents must be equipped to respond proactively to potential triggers.

Forty percent of children suffer from some form of allergies, but what many parents do not realize is that many of their kids’ symptoms may be alleviated by simple changes in routine. Here are a few tips:

  • When it comes to seasonal allergies, showering at night could mean the difference between sleeping tight and a restless night. Even a quick, five-minute rinse in the shower is enough to wash the pollen and other allergy-inducing particles off of the skin, hair, and eyelashes. If nightly showering does not fit into the established routine, simply washing the face can remove enough irritants to make a noticeable difference at nighttime.
  • If your child is suffering from an allergic skin reaction accompanied by swelling, itching, and irritation, a few different methods could relieve the pain without reaching into the medicine cabinet. An oat bath is known to soothe skin and alleviate redness. A cool compress applied to the irritated area will also soothe the skin. Finally, be sure to dress your child in loose or baggy clothing. Tight clothing can cause chafing and further irritate the rash.
  • Keeping a journal documenting allergy and/or asthma flare-ups helps to track your child’s triggers and outbreak trends. This information comes in handy when discussing treatment plans with your child’s doctor, as well. When keeping a journal, be sure to include the date and time of day, the activity that your child was participating in, and where your child was during the asthma attack or allergic reaction. Also, include any physical symptoms and the duration of the reaction.
  • As much as your child probably loves to cuddle up with the family pet at bedtime, pet dander can be a dangerous trigger for asthma sufferers. Be sure to keep animals out of your child’s bedroom at bedtime and wash pillowcases and bedding regularly to avoid any nighttime attacks brought on by your four-legged friends.
  • Checking the weather seems obvious, but air quality and pollen count can have a severe effect on a child’s asthma and allergy symptoms. Plan ahead for field trips, vacations and prolonged outdoor activities. Excessively hot and humid weather can potentially cause problems as well—so it is always better to be proactive, rather than reactive.  

Food allergies often require even more foresight on the part of parents. Students with severe food allergies are typically aware of which foods to avoid. Also, school nurses and teachers are made aware of the student’s severe allergy and are trained to respond to instances of anaphylaxis. However, since classrooms and lunchrooms are areas where students socialize and interact closely, they can also be dangerous places for students with food allergies. Here are some things you can do to avoid an allergy emergency:

  • If your child has severe food allergies, it is important to ask about specific seating in the cafeteria where your child can avoid the allergen.
  • It is also important to ensure that any treats or snacks provided in the classroom are free of the allergen or are substituted with “safe” snacks. Many schools encourage parents to store a classroom supply of snacks for such occasions.