How Can I Help My Allergic Child Pay Attention In School?

How Can I Help My Allergic Child Pay Attention In School?

Back to school time is also peak ragweed allergy season. Allergic sneezing, itchy, watering eyes, coughing and medicine-induced drowsiness can take a toll on your child’s ability to pay attention in school. Allergic disease may affect up to 15% of all children in the 6-7 years age range, and up to one-third of the population in the 13-14 years age range. Allergic rhinitis is presently the most common chronic disorder in the pediatric population, and can affect learning as a consequence of the frequent sleep disturbances and resulting daytime sleepiness.

Impact on health and attendance

The AAAAI reports 80% of patients with seasonal allergies experience sleep problems, which can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration and poor performance at school and work. Over 16.7 million visits to office-based physicians each year are due to allergic rhinitis. Lost work and school days, medications and physician office visits related to allergic rhinitis total more than $3 billion annually in the United States. Some studies indicate that allergic rhinitis impairs activities such as visual coordination, retention capacity or short term memory, reaction time, psychomotor speed, vigilance and attention. This can result in professional and school activity problems. A secondary effect of all this is school absenteeism, “presenteeism” (inattention, distraction, lack of concentration), irritability and restlessness, mood disturbances, and even social and family problems that can further contribute to worsen school performance.

How you can help your child

Effective management of allergic rhinitis can reduce the impact of the disease on the future health of children and adolescents, avoid complications, and improve quality of life and school performance – though certain drugs, particularly the classical antihistamines, can produce unacceptable side effects that may further worsen school performance. To control allergies, a parent must first identify them. Careful observation is one way to determine “Triggers” of allergy symptoms. Allergy skin testing is more precise. Newer over-the-counter antihistamines such as loratadine or fexofenadine can be effective in milder cases. Consult your pharmacist. If simple measures are not completely eliminating symptoms, consider seeing an allergist.

Contact us today to learn how to help your allergic child avoid allergy-induced academic lags.

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