If you are concerned that your child is suffering from allergies, asthma or other related conditions here are some things to keep in mind. Some allergies are mild and can be managed with periodic over-the-counter medicine. However, types of pediatric allergies and asthma vary between children and should not be treated with a “cookie cutter” approach. Often, allergies and asthma can be quite severe with a substantial impact on the child’s quality of life. Additionally, pediatric allergies and some of their treatments can have broad effects on the immediate and long-term health of children. Getting support early in life or near the onset of allergic symptoms can help children have the best chance for a positive long-term outcome.
Why see a Board-Certified Pediatric Allergist?
There are many health specialists who can provide general guidance regarding allergic conditions. But, as with other specialties, specific experience with childhood allergic disease is very important.
A pediatric allergist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other allergic conditions in children. The allergist has undergone extensive training to identify the various factors that can trigger allergies and asthma.
After graduating from a four year undergraduate program and earning a medical degree (M.D. or D.O) following four years of medical school, the allergist then completes a three-year residency training program with an additional two or three years of fellowship study solely dedicated to the field of pediatric allergy and immunology.
You can be certain that your child’s physician has met these requirements if he or she is certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. All allergists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists of North Florida are certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology and actively participate in maintenance of certification (MOC), which assures they are up to date with the latest scientific and clinical advances in the field.
Allergy Testing and Diagnosis for Children
Time is valuable and an accurate diagnosis is essential to the successful management of allergies. It is crucial to make the correct diagnosis as early as possible. Accurate interpretation of allergy test results is particularly important for children with food allergies, so that the culprit food is identified and other foods are not unnecessarily placed on the child’s food allergy list.
We emphasize bringing value to every patient’s appointment and begin by obtaining a detailed history of your child’s symptoms. Based on that information, we develop the most appropriate treatment plan for your child while explaining the diagnosis in detail and answering your questions. We also believe it is important to help our young patients understand their illness, which gives them knowledge and confidence to share their condition with other adults who may care for them.
Pediatric Allergy Treatment Options
There are several treatment options available to help cope with the symptoms of allergies and asthma. Over-the-counter treatments are often used as temporary stopgap measures and some come with notable side effects (i.e. drowsiness or hyperactivity). Prescription medications may offer better long-term symptom control with fewer side effects, but they also do not address the underlying triggers for allergy and asthma symptoms. For this reason, allergists rely on the details of the health history before deciding on the best course of action.
Our treatments center on identification and avoidance of underlying allergic triggers.
We strive to use the least amount of medication possible to control symptoms, improve quality of life, and improve long-term outcomes. We recognize that children often have better results when they receive coordinated care and that’s why we will partner with you and your child’s pediatrician to assure the best possible outcome. By working together, we can better identify allergic triggers and develop a unique therapy tailored for your child.
We also understand that some parents are concerned about any medications being used and prefer to take a more holistic approach to treating allergies. Allergen immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots or allergy injections) is a more natural option for patients. It is the ultimate long-term treatment for many people with allergic nasal conditions, allergic eye conditions and severe insect sting allergies (bees, wasps, fire ants, etc…). Allergen immunotherapy works by gradually retraining the immune system to be more tolerant of environmental allergens without the use of medications. Its success rate is high—75-85% and is the one of the most cost effective long term treatment for allergies.
Continuing Care for Childhood Allergies
The long-term management of allergies and asthma can be challenging and it’s important to remain mindful about how the illness and the medications may be affecting your child’s quality of life. There are various medications that can be used to treat allergies, but some can impart undesirable effects. Some children may find that their sleep patterns are disrupted while taking antihistamines or decongestants. Sometimes it’s best to start new medications when there is going to be a break from school or closer to the weekend to give children time to adjust and cause the least amount of disruption.
Children may carry some childhood allergies well into adulthood and therefore it is important for parents to work with trained pediatric allergists who can help you and your children cope with these illnesses as they move forward.
Ultimately, through a concerted group effort, we can help children learn how to best handle their symptoms and whether their treatment is effectively controlling their allergies.
Please visit our homepage at jaxallergy.com and contact us or call 904-730-4870 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Photo courtesy: kobyakov