Araceli Elizalde, MD, Immunology Director
Allergy, Immunology, & Rheumatology, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine
May is Food Allergy Action and National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from environmental allergies and asthma.
Nasal allergies affect 10 percent to 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children. Allergies can be seasonal, with symptoms brought on by sensitivity to pollen from trees, grasses or weeds, or to airborne mold spores. Sometimes, sensitivity to house dust mites, animal dander or cockroaches can trigger a reaction, called perennial allergic rhinitis.
An asthma attack is often triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust and animal dander, certain drugs and food additives or respiratory infections. Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, many treatments are available to control this chronic inflammation of the airways in the lungs.
In addition, two recently released large-scale studies of food allergy prevalence estimates 32 million Americans have food allergies. This number is more than double what we previously believed, reinforcing that food allergy is a problem of epidemic proportions.
Those suffering from allergies and asthma should be able to feel good and safe. No one should accept less.
In response to these alarming statistics, and in an effort to raise public awareness of the risks faced every day, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio offers these tips as part of Food Allergy Action and National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.
Here are some tips to help families living with allergies and asthma:
- Limit exposure or avoid the allergens that cause your allergy and asthma symptoms.
- Keep windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day. Take a shower, wash your hair, and change clothing after working or playing outdoors.
- To prevent asthma flare ups, stay away from smoke, dirt, gases and triggering odors.
- If you suffer from food allergy, read the label every time you buy a product, even if you’ve used that product before. Food ingredients in any given product may change.
- Cooking at home lets you prepare anything according to your food needs, so you can use healthier and safe ingredients that are familiar to you.
- Hand sanitizer does not remove food proteins, always use soap and water or wipes to clean hands or surfaces.
- Epinephrine is the only treatment for a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Work with your child’s health care team on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to treat it.
- Pay close attention to new food allergy treatment trends. Prospects for safe, effective treatments to prevent food allergy reactions have never been brighter, and the field of food allergy research is poised to deliver on its promise to find a cure.
- See an allergist for any allergy and asthma symptoms, to learn how to avoid potential triggers and for treatment recommendations.
Allergies and asthma are serious diseases. Misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment can have serious health consequences. Board-certified allergists can perform allergy testing and treat allergic diseases effectively so that people with asthma or allergies can lead a healthy, active lifestyle. If your child needs to see a pediatric specialist for the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma, please call 210.704.2187.