Why it's important to treat your child's allergies if they have asthma


Springtime can be difficult on children who have to deal with allergies on top of their asthma.

"It's a time when after a winter when we're all cooped up inside kids want to go out and play, but the weather is a little variable. It can tend to get a little warm but still have those cold stretches. Plus, there's more pollen in the air at this time. These are all triggers for asthma," says Corey Martin, M.D., a pediatric pulmonologist for the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology at The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai.

Children with allergic rhinitis-inflammation inside the nose typically characterized by runny nose or congestion-are two to seven times more likely to develop asthma down the road. If your child has allergies and asthma, make sure they're being treated for both. "If you don't treat their allergies, it might exacerbate their asthma," Martin says.

In one study, children with asthma said uncontrolled allergies affected their ability to get a good night's rest, concentrate at school, enjoy social activities and participate in sports. In addition to a runny or congested nose, allergy symptoms can include sneezing, itchy/watery eyes and generalized itchy skin/hives. There are several different asthma triggers: pollen, dust mites, pets, pollution, bugs in the home, fungus spores and cold air, among others.

The severity of allergies can vary. Uncontrolled allergies in a kid with asthma, however, can cause them to be classified with a more severe case of asthma. They'd be more likely to wake up at night with asthma symptoms, and they may have to be put on more medications to control their asthma.

If you think your child has allergies, especially if they have asthma, see your primary care provider, who may refer you to an allergist. To make a diagnosis, the allergist may want to give your child a skin test or blood test. The skin test is more common and produces faster results, but a blood test may be more appropriate if your child has a skin condition or is taking a medication that could affect the accuracy of a skin test. "It's important to identify your child's specific allergens as then you know what can be avoided and what may simply have to be managed," Martin says.

Your doctor can discuss with you appropriate treatments for allergic rhinitis, which include intranasal steroids and oral and nasal antihistamines.

The Division of Pediatric Pulmonology has outpatient clinics at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and Quarry Lake (2700 Quarry Lake Drive, Suite 270, Baltimore, MD 21209) and will soon open a clinic in Loch Raven. Immediate patient appointments are available. To schedule an appointment and learn more about our services, call 410-601-4096. To learn more about other LifeBridge Health services, visit lifebridgehealth.org or call 410-601-WELL.