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As parents, we all want to see our children succeed in school. From getting them ready in the morning to helping them with their homework at night, most moms and dads will go the extra mile to ensure their children flourish academically.
But there could be something you’re completely unaware of that’s holding your child back: allergies.
According to the 2008 Pediatric Allergies in America Survey, children suffering from chronic allergies—known as Allergic Rhinitis (AR)— have lower learning and composite scores than their classmates.
“When kids don’t feel well, they don’t concentrate well,” says Dr. Mark Posner, a Senior Physician and Director with Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. “These kids are not sleeping well due to nasal congestion, they show up to school tired, and they can be disruptive in class because they’re sniffing and snorting.”
Emily Jerdon of Pottstown was one such student. Having suffered from mild allergies since a young age, Emily saw a spike in her symptoms last spring while a sophomore in high school. Nasal congestion disrupted her sleep while sinus headaches plagued her days, and as a result she often found herself too tired and distracted to concentrate in the classroom, or to attend school altogether.
“I had trouble sleeping because I was so congested. I felt like I couldn’t breath,” Emily recalls. “I was just really tired all the time.”
Unfortunately, cases like Emily’s are not out of the ordinary. Today, up to 40 percent of American children suffer from allergic rhinitis, while many experts believe that climate change only compounds these symptoms by greatly lengthening the allergy season.
Yet, despite these alarming statistics, many parents either fail to recognize their children’s symptoms, or medicate them with over-the-counter antihistamines that can leave kids feeling drowsy and dizzy the following day.
“The really sad thing is these children don’t get any rest 24/7. They don’t eat well, they don’t sleep well, and they don’t learn well,” says Dr. Posner, before pointing out that some symptoms can extend far beyond congestion. “Children suffering from post nasal drip are often nauseous. These are kids who wake up in the morning and they don’t even feel like eating. Then they go to school and sometimes throw up on the bus because there is so much mucous in their stomach. It’s not a great way to start the day.”
That’s why it’s so important that parents bring their children to see an allergy specialist. Through allergy skin testing, allergy doctors will identify your child’s allergic triggers before creating an effective treatment plan. The allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists have access to over 100 allergens and will determine which ones your child will be tested for based on his or her medical history, environmental survey, and physical examination. The skin tests are performed in a rapid and needleless method.
Once patients are properly diagnosed, an allergist will typically prescribe a mix of topical nasal steroids and second generation, non-sedating antihistamines. These medications can be administered at home in the morning and/or evening, meaning children don’t need to interrupt their school day to tend to their allergies.
For parents who would like to see their child eventually weened off allergy medications, Allergy & Asthma Specialists also offers Sublingual Immunotherapy (or SLIT), an injection-free procedure that reduces a patient’s reactivity to an allergen by exposing them to small dosages of the extract over time.
Regardless of the specific treatment path, the specialists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists always see strong academic results when a child’s allergies are treated correctly and effectively.
“What happens to these kids, is they go from being the most absent student in school to the one who wins the attendance award,” says Dr. Posner. “When you treat a child’s allergies effectively, they become less sick.”
Just ask Emily Jerdon. With her allergies now under control, she’s enjoying a symptom-free junior year and starting to look at colleges.
“I love math and history, but in college I want to study business management,” says an ebullient Emily, her voice energetic and congestion-free. “My dad has an electrical contracting business that I’d love to take over someday.”
Why see your child suffer both physically and academically from chronic allergies? Visit Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM at AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com to begin your child's path to relief.