When cooler weather starts to creep in during October and November, things can get challenging for mothers of kids with allergies. That's because this is the time of year when symptoms of colds and the flu can easily be confused with symptoms of allergies. This is especially true if your child is allergic to ragweed pollen and/or molds, because this is also the time of year when those substances are often at their peak.
So, if your child starts to experience nasal stuffiness and a runny nose, plus sneezing, and perhaps a dry cough, how do you know what's really going on? And how can you determine if you should keep your child home from school?
First, Assess the Situation
If you're really not sure why your child is suffering, then by all means, consult with your pediatrician or family doctor. But in most cases, moms can get a good idea of whether kids are dealing with allergies, colds or the flu by taking note of specific symptoms over a day or two.
I wrote a previous post that explained the differences in symptoms in detail, so that should prove helpful to you in understanding what's what.
Second, Figure Out What's Causing Symptoms
If you're pretty sure your child has a head cold or the flu, then it's wise to keep him or her home from school until feeling better. This gives your child a chance to recover, plus it also keeps him/her from infecting classmates. Be sure your child gets plenty of rest and fluids during this time.
If you think allergies are at play, then deciding about keeping your child home can be trickier. First of all, is there any chance that school is what's causing the allergic symptoms?
Read this article on Back to School Advice for Parents for more information on the types of allergy and asthma triggers often found in the school environment.
If you do find that something at school is the culprit, then it makes sense to keep your child out of that situation until the trigger can be removed. But if, like many of us, your child is just reacting to the high levels of ragweed and/or pollen in the air this time of year, then your decision about keeping him home or not is not as clear cut.
Are Allergies an Illness?
There are a couple of issues to consider. First of all, nasal allergies are a chronic condition. And kids who are allergic to seasonal triggers like pollen may always have some degree of symptoms during certain times of the year. It's important to not allow allergies to interfere greatly with your child's day to day activities.
You want your child to be able to participate in school and play activities, just like his or her peers. So, it's not a great idea to allow minor to moderate intensity allergy symptoms keep him/her out of school. A better course of action is to treat the allergies with an antihistamine or other medication recommended by your child's doctor and to reduce exposure to triggers as much as you can.
Teach your child that minor allergy symptoms are not something to dwell on; instead, they should be accepted as a usual part of life that can be dealt with. However, you should also instruct your child about symptoms that suggest something more severe is happening, such as shortness of breath, or a cough that won't quit, as those might need more intensive treatment.
Your child will take his cues from you. If you are the type of parent who panics at every little sniffle or sneeze, then chances are your child will do the same. Common sense should rule. You don't want to send a sick child to school, but a few sniffles or sneezes does not always indicate illness. If you are diligent in making sure your child gets his/her allergy medicine and you've worked to reduce the triggers in the environment, then you've probably done all you can.
Published On: October 04, 2010