Fredericksburg Parent

March 2016

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www.FredParent.NET • 17 Sponsored Material Join us March 17 for the live conversation on Do you have questions for the doctors at Allergy & Asthma Centers of Fredericksburg & Fairfax? Ask them live on our Facebook page during Ask The Expert March 17 at 8 pm. Appointments at Allergy & Asthma Center of Fredericksburg & Fairfax can be made at 540-371-6810. a sk t h e e x p e rt How early in life can children start show- ing symptoms of environmental allergies? Seasonal allergies generally develop after a few years of life, but a subset of people may develop environmental sensitivities much earlier. Having other allergic conditions (i.e., eczema, asthma, food allergies) and/or a fam- ily history of allergies may predispose an indi- vidual to develop environmental sensitivities in early childhood. Sensitization, particularly to indoor allergens (i.e., dust mites, pet dan- der, cockroach), may occur in children even younger than 2 years of age resulting in sinus, eczema and/or asthma problems. An evalua- tion by an allergist can help determine if your child requires further testing. If my infant is allergic to a beloved pet, what can we do to help ease their symp- toms? Do I need to worry about them worsening over time? Removing the pet from the household isn't always necessary in order to prevent allergy symptoms. First of all, it is important to accu- rately identify the allergen(s) prior to formu- lating a treatment plan. If a pet allergy is con- firmed, then taking steps to minimize exposure to the pet dander is essential. Keeping pets out of the bedroom, especially off your bed, is a good start. Also, removing carpeting or rugs that can harbor pet dander and other allergens can be helpful. Medications can also be used if lifestyle modifications don't con- trol your child's symptoms. Pet allergies can worsen over time, as can sensitivities to other allergens (i.e., dust mites, pollen). An allergist can determine your child's risk of developing additional allergies, as well as develop an effec- tive treatment plan. How can I safely manage my seasonal allergies while pregnant or breastfeeding? It's not uncommon for patients who are preg- nant or breastfeeding to feel uneasy about taking medication(s) for their seasonal aller- gies, but it's important to keep your symptoms under control. Uncontrolled seasonal allergies may cause disturbances in a person's sleep, mood, energy and overall quality of life. Also, people with seasonal allergies are more likely to suffer from sinus infections. Certain medi- cations for treatment of allergies have been found to be safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is best to consult your doctor prior to starting a medication. Can consuming local honey or bee pollen help reduce symptoms from pollen allergies? Scientific evidence does not support the use of local honey or bee pollen for treatment of allergy symptoms. Typically, seasonal allergies are trig- gered by wind-borne pollens, as opposed to pollens spread by insects. The floral pollens collected by bees do not cause allergy symptoms; therefore, it's unlikely that honey would provide any therapeutic benefit. If I know my child is allergic to bee stings should I be equally concerned about stings from other flying insects, such as wasps? Bees are categorized in the Apidea family and wasps are in the fam- ily Vespidae; therefore, the allergens in the venom between these insect families are distinct enough that the risk of your child having a reaction to a wasp sting is low. On the other hand, a wasp allergic person is at a higher risk of a reaction to other insects in the Vespidae family (i.e., yellow jackets, hornets). The problem is most victims cannot identify the sting culprit and since sting-related reactions account for over 30 percent of life threatening cases in emergency departments, getting an accurate diagnosis is impera- tive. Many insect allergic patients receive venom shots from their allergist to prevent a subsequent reaction if they are stung again. When is allergy testing appropriate? Allergic symptoms can range from minor discomfort to anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening reaction). By understanding the cause of a person's symptoms, effective personalized treatment can be implemented with a scientifically based approached. Allergy tests, combined with a thorough medical history and physical examination can give invaluable information to what you are, and are not, allergic to. Testing done by an allergist is generally safe and effective for people of all ages, including infants. The allergen extracts used for testing meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. So, if you are one of the millions of people affected by spring time allergies, be prepared this season by visiting your local allergist/immunologist to help you feel better and live better. Do hypoallergenic dogs and cats actually exist? To date, no published literature indicates that "hypoal- lergenic" dogs exist; therefore, pet owners need to implement effective lifestyle modifications and/or medications to control their symptoms. Many pet allergic patients choose the option of allergy shots (immunotherapy) which may help them to reduce or eliminate the use of medications. Talk to your allergist/immunologist to learn more about which treatment option is right for you.

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