Do You Know What Triggers Your Child’s Allergies?

Nearly 10 million pet owners, including kids, are allergic to their pet, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. But don’t get rid of your furry friend just yet. Although your pet can trigger allergies, so can other substances such as pollen, mold or dust.

True or False?

Allergy symptoms – sneezing, watery eyes and an itchy nose – occur when your child has a sensitivity to certain airborne substances called triggers. Knowing your child’s triggers can help prevent an allergic reaction, so it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Are the following true or false?

Hypoallergenic pets will not cause allergies in children.

False. Hypoallergenic pets – without fur, with short fur or non-shedding fur – are often suggested as a solution to children’s allergies. But if your child is sneezing and sniffling around your family pet, it’s not your pet’s fur that’s causing the problem.

Pet allergies are triggered by a protein found in the skin, not in the fur. When your pet sheds skin flakes called dander, they can trigger allergies. Hypoallergenic pets will not prevent allergies because they have dander too. You can help alleviate your child’s allergy symptoms by keeping his or her bedroom a no-pet, dander-free zone. Trap dander by using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter.

Flowers cause allergies in children.

False. Although flowers have pollen, they don’t release it into the air. Instead, bees transport it from flower to flower. Only plants that release pollen into the air – like weeds, grasses and trees – cause allergies.

Pollen counts can predict bad days for seasonal allergies.

True. Daily pollen counts can help you determine the worst days for seasonal allergies, so you can keep your child inside, if necessary. One source of pollen counts is the National Allergy Bureau.

Eating honey can reduce children’s seasonal allergies.

False. Some believe that by eating the pollen in honey, you can desensitize your immune system to pollen so you won’t react to it. However, this doesn’t work because the pollen in honey is from flowers and does not cause seasonal allergies.

Just knowing your child’s triggers and avoiding them can help him or her remain symptom-free this spring. Prevent an allergic reaction by giving your child an over-the-counter medication before symptoms start. If this doesn’t work, be sure to see your doctor who may prescribe a nasal spray or refer your child to an allergist for further testing and treatment.

About the Author: Susan Adham, M.D., practices pediatrics with the Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation and is a Sutter Delta-affiliated physician.