Saturday, October 22, 2016

fall allergy survival guide

this post is sponsored by the lovely people of cvs minute clinic. as always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

it's that time of the year. each fall, right as school is getting into full swing, it starts up again. my kids come home with itchy, watery eyes. they start to sneeze and cough. their asthma kicks in and they start wheezing and coughing some more. it seems like a never ending cycle and we face it every year at this time. 

my kids have seasonal allergies. five out of five kids come home in the fall with snotty noses and wheezy coughs. ragweed and dust does us in each and every fall and it seems to take an army of medication and precautions to get them back on the healthy road again. 

this year we are determined to be proactive and try to keep our kids in school and out of the doctor's office. in years past, their allergies have led to ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis and other horrible sicknesses that can follow sinus congestion. we are trying to avoid all of those this year so are taking actions to prevent the congestion in the first place. 

first, it is important for us to know the difference between a cold or the flu and allergies. allergies are a body's hyper-sensitivity to substances in the environment. allergies are long lasting. while a cold usually will clear up after 7-10 days, allergies can last for months (as seen by my five kiddos). if you have a fever, it's not allergies, it's a cold or the flu. aches and pains...that's also a sign of the flu. if you have consistent itchy eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing and have symptoms that occur as soon as you come in contact with an allergen, it is probably allergies. the best way to treat allergies is to avoid them in the first place. 

here are five things that we do as a family to keep allergies and their symptoms at a minimum.

create a health plan with a nurse practitioner

every fall, we stop in to our cvs minute clinic to meet with a nurse practitioner to develop a family allergy action plan. we get all the medications we need filled for our kiddos and we get any and every new tip we can get for allergy prevention. we are fortunate enough to have two minute clinics in the same parking lot, literally two miles from my house. one is inside target and the other inside a cvs store. both are fantastic and i can even make online reservations for an appointment and can show up ten minutes before my appointment time completely checked in. it's fantastic and so convenient. i don't like to pull my kids out of school so i can even do all of their appointments on a saturday morning. we are in and out in no time and they don't have to miss any school assignments. on top of getting their prescription allergy medicine filled, we also get some great tips on allergy prevention. the nurse practitioners have given us all of the following tips to keep our kids healthy in the fall. 

clean, clean, clean

this is, arguably, my least favorite thing about fall allergy season. i have to be very diligent about keeping my house clean. as lovely fall breezes kick up, so do allergens. as kids run in and out of my house in the lovely, cooler weather, they bring in all sorts of allergens that can affect them for months. as my kids are allergic to dust, dusting and vacuuming is increasingly important over the fall months. these responsibilities are passed on to my children and they have to take part in the allergy prevention. we also are pretty diligent about vacuuming and mopping our hardwood floors as well. dirty or dusty floors can reek havoc on allergy symptoms so the best way to combat it is to keep things as clean as possible.

wash their clothes

i don't like doing more laundry than i have to and i am definitely not apposed to wearing jeans more than one day, especially for my kiddos. i do, however, have to make sure that in the fall, they don't wear sweatshirts and t-shirts repeatedly. those articles of clothing are right next to their little faces and, while they are enjoying the beautiful weather outdoors, they are also collecting allergens. the only way to get rid of those allergens is to wash their sweatshirts and t-shirts. i have to wash them more than i would like but it does make a huge difference in how my kids feel.

wash bedding frequently

this is another thing i would like to avoid but i have to force myself to do it often, especially in allergy season. bedding is a breeding ground for dust mites and dust just loves to fill up every nook and cranny. add to that the ragweed that comes into our house during the fall and it can be a disaster for my kids as they breath during the night time. i have to be extra diligent to wash bedding at least on a weekly basis.

keep windows closed

this one kills me. i feel like i wait all summer long for fresh air but i have to remember that open windows means all of the outside is free to come inside. this is really bad news for my allergic kiddos. i have to keep the windows closed and run the AC or the heater if i want the air circulating.

change air filters

this really needs to be done every season but it is especially true for us in the fall. we have to have our air filters clean so the air that is circulating is as clean as possible. some people also invest in hepa filters. we used to have one when our kids were toddlers and they worked wonders but as our kids have grown and their allergies and asthma have been better controlled, we have been able to cut back on the hepa filter use. with or without a hepa filter, keep air filters in the house clean during this season.

wash hands and face each time you come in from outdoors

this one is hard for my little boys to remember but they are getting used to it. each day after outdoor play, they have to come in and wash their hands and their faces. this simple activity removes a big portion of the ragweed from their bodies before they keep playing in the house. it has made a huge difference in how they feel throughout the day. they also have to shower and wash their hair every night. my kids play outside all afternoon. if they come in covered in ragweed pollen and do not shower, they will be breathing that pollen all night long. when that happens, the pollen also spreads to their bedding and they can keep coming in contact with it again and again. showering and washing out the pollen is very important each and every night. 

stay diligent with medications

my kids take their allergy medicines every single day. even when their allergies seem under control, we still have them take their medicines. we use it as prevention and we can tell from one day to the next if they have forgotten a day of medicine. this goes for their over the counter allergy medicine, their nasal sprays, their inhalers and their prescription allergy medicines. they have it all and they are religious about using it every day. when we miss, we tend to get really bad, really fast. that's just something we are not willing to deal with this year so we are taking care of our kids daily to make sure we don't get to that point. 

that's it. it may seem daunting but each day i stay diligent is a day my kids can function allergy and sickness free. that is a huge win in my book. how about you? how do you combat allergy season for your kiddos? we can't wait to hear.