Coping With Children’s Allergies: Relief for Parental Burnout

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One in four U.S. children suffers from allergies. If your child is one of them, you know the drill: They can feel run down, develop secondary infections or asthma, and be cranky. Allergies can be downright miserable for everyone in the family.

You also know that allergies can complicate the simplest activities for your child — from eating and attending school to slumber parties and playing outside. Between chauffeuring them to doctor visits, researching treatment options, planning around their allergies, and trying to create an allergy-proof home, parents can become overwhelmed and burned out.

You can change that, however, with some simple steps. By re-evaluating how you care for your allergic child – from the medicines you give her to planning vacations – and integrating some stress-relief activities into your routine, you can turn stress time into quality time for both of you.

Is Your Child Getting the Best Allergy Medicine?

The first step in your stress-busting plan may be to talk to your child’s allergist about better symptom control.

“It depends on the type of allergy the child has, but the main thing about any allergy is to make sure that you identify what triggers the child’s problems or symptoms and then once you figure that out, you can help them cope with the symptoms they have,” says Stanley Fineman, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

If you haven’t tried any new allergy for a while, you may find that second-generation medications or immunotherapy — a series of allergy shots — can work wonders. In fact, immunotherapy is the closest thing to curing allergies.

“Allergy shots have been shown to help 85% of people who go on them,” says Rachel Schreiber, MD, an allergist immunologist and co-founder of mommydocs.com, a pediatric information site. “And in children, they help not only allergies, but also asthma.” Allergy shots can prevent the progression of allergies to asthma.

Immunotherapy is usually best suited for kids who can’t take medications or whose medications aren’t working well. Here’s how it works: The doctor tests your child to find out which allergens cause a reaction. Then, over a period of months, a small bit of allergen is injected into the child (in the upper arm). Shots are given each week in the beginning and then every few weeks until the child is desensitized to the substance. The needle is small and kids usually tolerate the shots well.

Children’s Allergies: 10 Tips for Less Stress

Next, try these strategies to keep allergies from taking over both of your lives.

Coping With Children’s Allergies: Stress Busters for Parents

Taking steps to make your child less miserable will certainly make you less miserable too. But it’s easy to forget your own needs in the process. Try these tips for improving your quality of life.

  • Don’t turn down adult social activities because of the kid’s allergies. Make arrangements for a babysitter or come up with an alternative plan.
  • Be flexible. You never know when you’ll have to move the picnic indoors or leave the park early. Staying open to alternatives and keeping your sense of humor will help you cope better.
  • Don’t use your child’s allergy as an excuse. Don’t say, “We can’t go camping because Johnny has allergies” or “We can’t have a pet because of Suzie’s sinuses.“ That creates resentments between parents and children.
  • Don’t skip the activities you enjoy. If there’s something you miss – such as visiting a public garden or hiking — because you can’t bring along allergy-prone kids, schedule it for date night or an outing with friends.
  • Schedule in “me time.” Everybody needs it. Decompress weekly with solo stress reducers like a manicure, massage, walk in the park, or coffee at a bookstore.

Creating a more relaxed family life when your child has allergies takes time and forethought at first, but eventually it becomes second nature. To avoid burn out and keep you and your child from being held hostage to allergies, adopt routines that easily become the norm for your family.