The goal shared by both physicians and parents in treating childhood asthma and allergies is to minimize medication side effects while maximizing the chance for children to lead normal lives. Parents can take the following steps to increase their child's comfort:
Allergen—A foreign substance that provokes an immune reaction or allergic response in some sensitive people but not in most others.
Allergic conjunctivitis—Inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelid and covering the eyeball; congestion of the conjunctiva, with mucus secretion.
Allergic reaction—An immune system reaction to a substance in the environment; symptoms include rash, inflammation, sneezing, itchy watery eyes, and runny nose.
Antibody—A special protein made by the body's immune system as a defense against foreign material (bacteria, viruses, etc.) that enters the body. It is uniquely designed to attack and neutralize the specific antigen that triggered the immune response.
Antigen—A substance (usually a protein) identified as foreign by the body's immune system, triggering the release of antibodies as part of the body's immune response.
Asthma—A disease in which the air passages of the lungs become inflamed and narrowed, causing wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Desensitization—A treatment for phobias which involves exposing the phobic person to the feared situation. It is often used in conjunction with relaxation techniques. Also used to describe a technique of pain reduction in which the painful area is stimulated with whatever is causing the pain.
Leukotriene antagonist—An agent or class of drugs which exerts an action opposite to that of another.
Pediatric allergist—A board certified physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic conditions in children.
Rhinitis—Inflammation and swelling of the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages.
Urticaria—An itchy rash usually associated with an allergic reaction. Also known as hives.
Remove carpet, launder bed linens in hot water, and keep windows closed at night and in the early morning hours to minimize exposure to outdoor allergens.
Avoid exposure to perfume and tobacco, or other forms of smoke.
Monitor weather and seasonal changes in an effort to minimize exposure to pollen.
Schedule outdoor playtime or exercise at non-peak pollen periods, such as afternoons or early evening.
Have the child wear a mask when helping in the garden or cutting the lawn, vacuuming, or dusting.
Involve the allergist in decisions regarding child's lifestyle.