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Kids and Seasonal Allergies - How Can We Help?

We found this article about 2018 allergy season to be helpful and wanted to share it. Taken from

"Kids Prone to Allergies? Then This Is the Time of Day You Should Not Go Outside"

May 10, 2018

While it's definitely true that April showers bring May flowers, for allergy sufferers they also bring itchy eyes, coughing, and a whole lot of sneezing. And unfortunately for kids with allergies, the 2018 Spring and Summer seasons are going to be especially bad.

Maria Castells, an allergist, and immunologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital told The Boston Globe that fluctuating pollen levels are to blame.

"Allergies are going to be a pretty severe year because there have already been several bursts of pollen out there that have been in between days where the temperature has gone down, so pollen is not being released in the air," she explained. "And there will be very few bursts in the next week or so. There is a lot of pollen from the trees that has not been released and will continue to be in the air."

In addition to taking allergy medicine, Dr. Castells suggests that parents close their kiddos' bedroom windows at night and avoid spending too much time outside first thing in the morning.

"I know that's hard now that we've had a long winter. We'd love to have a little bit of air in the bedrooms, but that's kind of dangerous because all the pollen grains starting at 4 and 5 a.m. start to come inside the bedrooms and start to inflame the nose, the eyes, the throat, and the lungs," she said. "Then when people wake up in the morning they start to cough, they start to feel like they can't really sleep well, sneezing, and not being able to breathe through their noses."

Rather than waiting until the pollen levels completely go through the roof, Castells recommends trying to get ahead of the problem.

"What will be most effective for people with allergies is to try and start treating themselves now, not waiting until the pollen is very high," she said. "When the pollen is very high the medications that can be taken — the antihistamines, the inhalers, the anti-inflammatory medications — actually can try and subdue and control the symptoms. But when the medication is taken beforehand it actually prevents the symptoms. So much milder symptoms occur if people take the medication before the actual pollen season."

Are Your Kids Suffer From Seasonal Allergies? If so, this article is for you!

We found this article on to be very helpful and wanted to share. 

from Parents Magazine

"Up to 40 percent of children in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies. Find out what symptoms parents should look for to determine if their kid is suffering from allergies, and what treatments are available.

If welcoming the new season means welcoming more sneezing and sniffling around your house, then your kids might be suffering from allergies.

As many as 40 to 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies and at least 35.9 million Americans have seasonal allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

So how can a parent know if their kid just has a cold, or if it's more than that? And what should they do if they do suspect it is allergies? We asked Dr. Todd Mahr, Director of Pediatric Allergy/Asthma/Immunology at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to give us some insight about symptoms, steps parents should take, and treatments for allergies.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies in kids?
They'll have repetitive sneezing, a running nose that is a thin, clear substance ... it's not usually thick and gooey; nasal congestion, an itchy nose, ears, eyes, throat -- so they get the itchies, and watery eyes.

For perennial allergies, they'll get more nasal blockage and congestion. They'll have post-nasal drip, which is when mucus drips down the back of the throat and kids will tend to clear their throats a lot. They also do have runny nose and sneezing but it's less prominent than in kids with seasonal allergies.

Keep in mind that it varies from person to person -- one may have more sneezing, another more of a runny nose, another more of the itchies.

What's the difference between seasonal allergies and perennial allergies? And when do the different kinds of allergies act up?
For seasonal allergies, they occur mainly with pollen so it comes from plants, weeds, grasses and trees. Many parents will recognize pollen more in the Spring, you know, if they leave their car outside overnight and go out to it in the morning, they'll see a little, yellow dusting on their car ... that's pollen. And if you have pollen allergies, they'll appear when that's in the air. Classically, it comes from trees early in the spring, so in April and May. Then in May, June and July, it's the grasses that are at their worst ... so people with allergies to various kinds of grasses may feel it more. And then in the Fall, it's the weeds, so ragweed allergies may flare up in mid-August to the end of September. That's classic, but it varies in different parts of the country.

For perennial nasal allergies, it means you're dealing with it year-round and these are usually indoor allergies: so it's dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, molds and feathers. So individuals may have symptoms occasionally or throughout the year, depending on what kind of allergies they have.

What are the common triggers that will bring on allergic reactions?
For kids who have allergies, sometimes everyday objects can be the trigger. For example, their favorite pet -- a dog or cat -- could shed dander (tiny pieces of skin), and that may trigger a flare-up. Sometimes the beds can be the trigger, including sheets, mattresses and box springs, because that's where dust mites live. So it's not that you're allergic to the bed, it's more the dust mites that are there.

There are also triggers that present themselves once kids are in [allergy] season, so for example with pollen season, things like cigarette smoke or perfumes can be triggers. Sometimes the weather -- the wind and rain -- can affect the amount of pollen in the air, and thus trigger an allergy flare-up in someone.

What should a parent do if they suspect their child has seasonal allergies?
The best thing to do is try and keep a little diary answering the questions, "when are the symptoms triggered and by what?" Because when you see your doctor, they will want to know if there is a pattern, and will ask you things like, "is it worse during the daytime or nighttime, or is it seasonal?" Those answers can give a lot of information [to a doctor].

Seeing your health care provider is a smart thing to do ... they can then make a determination if you should see an allergist. An allergist can look at the symptoms, do a physical exam and then maybe even do skin testing. Skin testing is when they put small amounts of allergens on the skin, or just below it, and look for a reaction to try to detect what you're allergic to. Once you have testing and can determine what you're allergic to, then you know and can avoid some triggers.

What could happen if allergies go untreated? Is there a real danger there?
In kids specifically, we see a lot of problems that are related to the congestion [caused by allergies]. Fatigue, especially during the daytime, poor concentration in school, learning problems and other difficulty in school can all be related to nasal congestion, because kids won't be sleeping as well at night. And then during the daytime, they're blowing their nose a lot and experiencing other symptoms. It can lead to peer pressure and social tension ... you know, they may not want to go out and play because they know if they do they'll start sneezing, and that can lead to some shyness.

Because children's bones and teeth are still developing, chronic mouth breathing [due to allergy-causing congestion] can cause teeth to come in at an improper angle. I get a lot of referrals from orthodontists who see kids for braces and figure out that the kid is a mouth breather. Until they fix that, the orthodontist knows that the braces are going to be on longer.

Kids who have allergies are more likely to have ear infections and more sinus infections. Also, if they have asthma, uncontrolled allergies can make the asthma worse. And there's been some evidence that it can lead to nasal polyps in the nose.

Unfortunately many kids suffer from nasal congestion, but they don't complain about it. Forty percent of kids have it -- and roughly 2 million school days are lost per year due to this.

What are the various treatments for allergies?
There are a number of medications, I am sure most parents have heard about the antihistamines -- these help relieve sneezing, itchiness and a runny nose, but doesn't do a good job on congestion; one of the biggest side effects is that it can cause sedation, extreme tiredness. An example of an antihistamine is Claritin, now available over-the-counter, or the generic and less expensive form called Loratadine.

As I said, [antihistamines] don't handle congestion so sometimes people will combine them with decongestants, which can shrink the inflamed nasal tissue and offer relief from nasal congestion. This can be taken orally or by nasal spray. One big caution about using an over-the-counter nasal spray is that people use it too often or for too many days in a row, and then their symptoms can get worse. Don't use it for longer than a few days in a row. An example of an over-the-counter nasal spray is Afrin or Neosynepherine.

There are other anti-inflammatory nasal agents that are by prescription only. They are nasal steroids and these manage and cover all symptoms [of allergies]. They get at the cause, which makes them the best thing for seasonal or perennial allergies. Examples of these are Flonase or Nasonex. The big key for parents to know about these is that they shouldn't confuse them with anabolic steroids.

Nasalcrom is a nasal spray that is a mast cell stabilizer and is available over-the-counter and will relieve the sneezing, itching and running nose, but you have to start using it a few weeks before the season starts, and use it three to four times a day. Nasalcrom is not as effective as the anti-inflammatory agents like Flonase or Nasonex, which you use just once a day. Flonase, and nasal anti-inflammatories like it, work at controlling the inflammation that causes the symptoms people have. They are recommended as the first line of therapy for most patients when their symptoms are more than just mild or intermittent.

Allergy shots or immunotherarpy are another treatment, which should be given through an allergist. What they do is inject a small amount of the allergen that affects you, and it's increased over time until eventually the patient is on a maintenance dose. This is not a quick fix -- kids who take allergy shots can do it for months or years to achieve benefits. It does change the immune's response, so it's not a medication, but it changes what's occurring. Most people start seeing benefits within about 12 months, and stay on it for 4 or 5 years.

How can a parent tell that what their child has is more than just a cold?
There's no fever associated with allergies. Also, it's repetitive, so if a parent sees a pattern to it, that's a big sign. For example, after your kid comes home from playing with someone with an animal, if they're always miserable after that, that's a sign. If it occurs at certain times of the year or in the morning when they wake up, parents need to look at that and talk to their health care professional.

What advice do you have for parents going into this spring season? What should they have their kids avoid?
If you know [your kid] has seasonal allergies, especially during pollen season, keep the windows and doors closed. I know it's hard because parents want to open the house up and air it out once Spring comes, but keep it shut. Dry clothes in the dryer ... don't hang clothes outside because then your bed sheets or clothes will be coated with pollen.

Also, use the air conditioner, which helps kill dust mites, and by decreasing humidity, helps to keep the pollen out. And if you had water leaks or accumulation over the winter, get them cleaned up so you prevent mold.

If you have indoor or perennial allergies, it's more difficult. Don't let the pet sleep in the bedroom, keep the pets off the furniture and bathe them regularly. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can be beneficial as well. Remove stuffed animals from the bedroom and wash bedding regularly to alleviate dust mites. Also, you can buy dust mite encasements, which trap the dust mites underneath. You can get those at most department stores or specialty companies."

Are You and Your Family Ready for the Warm Sunny Days Ahead?

We found this article on and wanted to share.

Sun Safety and Protection Tips

"Spending time outdoors is a common activity on spring breaks or summer vacations, but remember to protect against the sun's rays. Everyone is at risk for sunburn. Children especially need to be protected from the sun's burning rays, since most sun damage occurs in childhood. Like other burns, sunburn will leave the skin red, warm, and painful. In severe cases, it may cause blistering, fever, chills, headache, and a general feeling of illness. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips to keep children safe in the sun.

Sun Safety and Protection under 6 Months
Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn.

When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF It is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months if there is no way to avoid the sun SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands. Remember it takes 30 minutes to be effective.

If an infant gets a sunburn, apply cool compresses to the affected area.

Sun Safety for Kids
The first, and best line of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is covering up. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective. Try to find a wide-brimmed hat that can shade the cheeks, chin, ears and back of the neck. Sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection are also a good idea for protecting your child's eyes.

Apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater to areas of your child's skin that aren't covered by clothing. Before applying, test the sunscreen on your child's back for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids. If a rash develops, talk with your pediatrician.

Be sure to apply enough sunscreen -- about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

If your child gets a sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician.

Sun Safety for the Family
The sun's rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.

The sun's damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, water, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.

Wear commercially available sun-protective clothing, like swim shirts.

Most of the sun's rays can come through the clouds on an overcast day; so use sun protection even on cloudy days.

When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words "broad-spectrum" on the label - it means that the sunscreen will protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying. You may want to select a sunscreen that does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, a sunscreen chemical that may have hormonal properties.

Zinc oxide, a very effective sunscreen, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, top of the ears and on the shoulders.

Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The additional benefits of using sunscreen with SPF 50+ are limited.

Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.

Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors - it needs time to work on the skin.

Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer."

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Does Your Child Experience Stress? Here is How You Can Help!

Found on

"Helping Kids Cope with Stress.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

To adults, childhood can seem like a carefree time. But kids still experience stress. Things like school and their social life can sometimes create pressures that can feel overwhelming for kids. As a parent, you can't protect your kids from stress — but you can help them develop healthy ways to cope with stress and solve everyday problems.

Kids deal with stress in both healthy and unhealthy ways. And while they may not initiate a conversation about what's bothering them, they do want their parents to reach out and help them cope with their troubles.

But it's not always easy for parents to know what to do for a child who's feeling stressed.

Here are a few ideas:

Notice out loud. Tell your child when you notice that something's bothering him or her. If you can, name the feeling you think your child is experiencing. ("It seems like you're still mad about what happened at the playground.") This shouldn't sound like an accusation (as in, "OK, what happened now? Are you still mad about that?") or put a child on the spot. It's just a casual observation that you're interested in hearing more about your child's concern. Be sympathetic and show you care and want to understand.

Listen to your child. Ask your child to tell you what's wrong. Listen attentively and calmly — with interest, patience, openness, and caring. Avoid any urge to judge, blame, lecture, or say what you think your child should have done instead. The idea is to let your child's concerns (and feelings) be heard. Try to get the whole story by asking questions like "And then what happened?" Take your time. And let your child take his or her time, too.

Comment briefly on the feelings you think your child was experiencing. For example, you might say "That must have been upsetting," "No wonder you felt mad when they wouldn't let you in the game," or "That must have seemed unfair to you." Doing this shows that you understand what your child felt, why, and that you care. Feeling understood and listened to helps your child feel supported by you, and that is especially important in times of stress.

Put a label on it. Many younger kids do not yet have words for their feelings. If your child seems angry or frustrated, use those words to help him or her learn to identify the emotions by name. Putting feelings into words helps kids communicate and develop emotional awareness — the ability to recognize their own emotional states. Kids who can do so are less likely to reach the behavioral boiling point where strong emotions come out through behaviors rather than communicated with words.

Help your child think of things to do. If there's a specific problem that's causing stress, talk together about what to do. Encourage your child to think of a couple of ideas. You can start the brainstorming if necessary, but don't do all the work. Your child's active participation will build confidence. Support the good ideas and add to them as needed. Ask, "How do you think this will work?"

Listen and move on. Sometimes talking and listening and feeling understood is all that's needed to help a child's frustrations begin to melt away. Afterward, try changing the subject and moving on to something more positive and relaxing. Help your child think of something to do to feel better. Don't give the problem more attention than it deserves.

Limit stress where possible. If certain situations are causing stress, see if there are ways to change things. For instance, if too many after-school activities consistently cause homework stress, it might be necessary to limit activities to leave time and energy for homework.

Just be there. Kids don't always feel like talking about what's bothering them. Sometimes that's OK. Let your kids know you'll be there when they do feel like talking. Even when kids don't want to talk, they usually don't want parents to leave them alone. You can help your child feel better just by being there — keeping him or her company, spending time together. So if you notice that your child seems to be down in the dumps, stressed, or having a bad day — but doesn't feel like talking — initiate something you can do together. Take a walk, watch a movie, shoot some hoops, or bake some cookies. Isn't it nice to know that your presence really counts?

Be patient. As a parent, it hurts to see your child unhappy or stressed. But try to resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping your child, slowly but surely, grow into a good problem-solver — a kid who knows how to roll with life's ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, and bounce back to try again.

Parents can't solve every problem as kids go through life. But by teaching healthy coping strategies, you'll prepare your kids to manage the stresses that come in the future."

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Safety During Holiday Season - What do We Need to Know?

We just love the holiday season. But, in light of some recent unfortunate events in our neighborhood, due to unsafe holiday items, we wanted to share some important holiday safety tips, which we found on and really wanted to share with everyone. Be safe and enjoy the holidays :)!


On the Road

Watch out for Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians

Watch out for small kids and distracted drivers in parking lots that are busier than usual during the holidays.

Remind your inexperienced teen driver to be extra alert during the holidays when people are more distracted and the weather can be tricky.

Avoid distractions while driving. No text message or playlist is worth the risk of taking your eyes off the road. Set your GPS to voice activated so you can concentrate on driving without having to look at your phone.

Make Sure Every Passenger has a Seat Belt, Car Seat or Booster Seat

Everybody needs their own restraint. Make it a rule: everyone buckled, every ride, every time, whether it’s the long trip to visit family or around the block to the mall.

If you are flying, take your car seat with you and use it on the plane. It will be a benefit to have it with you at your destination and when you travel to and from the airport.

Check your car seat before holiday travel. Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so check it before you hit the road. Here’s a quick car seat checklist to help you out. It takes only 15 minutes. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, certified child passenger safety technicians are able to help or even double check your work.

Safety in the car goes beyond your little ones. Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have graduated from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.

Expect the Unexpected on the Road

Have an Exit Strategy on the Road. So now the car is packed, the kids are in the right seat, the seats are installed properly, and you’re on the open road. Nothing can stop you now, right? Wrong. That’s when you hear that all too familiar “howl" that means “I want food” or “Change my diaper.” When it happens, please don’t worry about making good time. Instead, get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.

Expect the unexpected. Secure loose objects. Put hot foods, large gifts and anything that could fly around in a crash in the trunk.

Plan to use a driver or car service to make sure you get home safely if you drink alcohol.

In the Home

Decorate Your Tree With Your Kids in Mind

Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so you might as well prepare. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids.

Water the Tree Regularly
Natural trees look beautiful and smell great, but if they’re not watered regularly, needles can dry out and pose a potential fire hazard. Make sure your tree has plenty of water by checking it regularly.

Check the Lights
Lights are one of the best parts of holiday decorating. Take a look at the ones on your tree and in and around your home for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.

Blow Out Candles and Store Matches Out of Reach
Keep holiday candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children's reach. Avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.

Keep Harmful Plants Out of Reach
Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous out of reach of children or pets. This includes mistletoe berries, holly berry, and Jerusalem cherry.
In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 1- 800-222-1222.

Find the Perfect Toy for the Right Age
Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game this holiday season. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure the gift is just right.
Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards.

Keep Button Batteries Away from Young Kids
Keep a special eye on small pieces, including button batteries that may be included in electronic toys. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.

Don’t Forget a Helmet for New Bikes or Other Toys
If your child’s heart is set on a bike, skateboard or scooter this holiday season, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.

Prevent Spills with Pot Handles
Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.

Avoid Placing Foods on an Open Oven Door
Your oven door may not be as strong as you think. To prevent oven tip-overs, place heavy foods or other items on a countertop out of the reach of young children, and not on an open oven door.
An anti-tip bracket is a valuable tool to prevent oven tip-overs. If you have one, simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install and use properly.

Engage Older Kids in Cooking
Teach older responsible kids how to cook safely. Teach them never to leave the kitchen while they’re using the stove or oven. Instruct older kids to use oven mitts or potholders to remove items from the oven or stove and teach them how to use a microwave safely."

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