Monday Medical: Tough children get allergy shots

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Yampa Valley Medical Center presents it's a session of its monthly Taking Care of Me Program, "It's Not Just Snot," at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the hospital's Conference Room 1. Dr. Kristen Fahrner will speak about helping children cope with allergies.

Your child may have allergies that affect her or him in ways you do not realize. Just ask Jill Delay, mother of 12-year-old Belle Mazzola, of Hayden.

"For years, Belle kept getting sick," Delay said. "She had a croupy cough that would take forever to go away, and kept coming back.

"She always had these dark circles under her eyes. She has some summertime allergy symptoms, but I had no idea that allergies could be causing her more chronic problems."

Typical allergy symptoms include itching, sneezing and nasal congestion, but many children are affected in more subtle ways. For example, did you know that your child's beautiful, silky eyelashes may be a manifestation of allergy?

Frequent sinus infections, repeated ear infections and chronic cough also are common in allergic children. Chronic allergies can lead to daytime fatigue, poor concentration and even embarrassment in school from chronic cough, sniffing or nose blowing.

How do you know if you child is prone to develop allergy?

First, take a good look at yourself and your spouse. If one parent is allergic, your child will have a 30 percent chance of developing allergy. When both parents are allergic, that risk escalates to 70 percent.

Many children develop seasonal allergies following the appearance of food allergy, eczema and reactive airways. This is known as the "Allergic March."

Early identification and treatment of allergies is an important part of maintaining your child's health and happiness.

Once your child's allergies have been identified through skin testing (or a blood draw in small children), simple environmental control measures, medicines and immunotherapy can be offered to help control their symptoms.

Not only should your child feel better on treatment, but studies have shown improvement in school performance, asthma and progression of further allergies.

So what about Belle? She had allergy testing last fall, and since then, she has been undergoing weekly immunotherapy shots.

According to her mother, she already is seeing improvement in her chronic symptoms.

"Belle is running around school bragging about how she is a tough girl getting shots," Delay said.

"Her dark circles are better, and her cough is finally gone. Her mood has been so much happier. We can't wait to see how she does through the summer."

Through immunotherapy, children and young adults like Belle can feel better with less medicine and enjoy long-term symptom relief for years after immunotherapy is discontinued.

Kristen Fahrner, M.D., of Northwest Colorado Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery in Steamboat Springs, is a board-certified otolaryngologist and member of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy.

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