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What can I do to relieve my son’s allergy symptoms?
Q: I think my 18-month-old son has allergies. His eyes gets itchy and red, they’re matted shut when he wakes up in the morning, and his nose runs now that everything is in bloom. And I am having trouble with my allergies. What, if anything, can I give him to relieve this? He is miserable.
A: Kat, from the symptoms you descote, it sounds like your son might have allergies. In addition, since you have allergies, your son is more likely to have allergies since they can be hereditary.

Be sure to take your son to the doctor to examine him, confirm the diagnosis, and give you recommendations for treatment. Treatment for allergies can involve the following:

  • Medications: These can be very helpful in reducing the symptoms. Some medications are available over-the-counter (e.g., antihistamines) and others can be prescoted by the doctor. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment and the proper dosage.

  • Allergy testing: You may think your son is allergic to some of the pollens in the air at this time of year. But he may also be allergic to other things around the house such as dust mites, molds, and cat or dog dander. The doctor may refer your son to an allergy specialist who may do skin and blood tests to determine the causes of your child’s allergies, suggest ways to avoid the allergens, and prescote the appropriate treatment. Once the cause of the allergies has been determined, some children are also helped by allergy shots.

  • Avoiding the causes of the allergies: It is important to try to avoid the causes of your son’s allergies. If he wakes up in the morning with allergic symptoms, examine his bedroom carefully to see if you can make it as allergen-free as possible:

  • For pollen allergies: Keep the windows closed during the pollen season, especially on windy days. Consider getting a HEPA filter for his bedroom.

  • For dust mite allergies: Encase your child’s mattress and pillow in a hypoallergenic cover. Remove stuffed animals from the bed. Remove wall-to-wall carpets if possible. Keep the house clean by mopping floors and using a HEPA-filter vacuum.

  • For mold allergies: Keep the house clean, dry, and free of mold. Repair any water leaks.

  • For pet allergies: Keep furry pets out of the home, especially your child’s bedroom.
For more information on allergies, visit the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics at www.aanma.org or Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America at www.aafa.org.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician