Learn how to identify and reduce or eliminate household allergens that may be triggering your children’s allergic responses.
Research shows an increase in the number of children being diagnosed with allergies each year. A noticeable rise began in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, although it is unclear whether the increase is due to improved diagnostic techniques and medical health coverage or more children experiencing allergic reactions to environmental allergens. Ironically, some studies suggest that kids who live in less-than-perfectly-clean households may have less chance of developing allergies than those who are raised in pristine environments. This may be due to the fact that exposure to a little bit of dirt or dust can help to stimulate an immune response that protects some children from a full-blown allergic response.
To help protect your kids from having a strong response to common allergens, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Although each person and home is different, some experts believe this type of response can reduce the likelihood that your child will react to household allergens like these.
1. Avoid overusing antibacterial soap and harsh household cleaning products. Too much exposure to antibacterial cleaners can lead to the mutation of germs that evade the destructive power of these agents. Thus, new and more potent allergens can develop to threaten your children’s health. Household cleaners may have the same effect on bacteria that hides in many areas throughout your home. In addition, the fumes of some products also may trigger an allergic response, further negating the value of such products.
2. Consider keeping a pet. Letting your kids have a cat or dog around the house can help them get used to pet dander that is often the culprit behind some types of childhood allergies. Combing and washing their pet lets them get used to this type of allergen before they encounter it further down the line and run into problems. However, don’t use a lot of commercial flea or grooming products on your pet, as these can incite allergic responses probably worse than those brought on by animals.
3. Don’t separate kids from dust. Let them sweep and clean their own rooms. Contact with dust and dust mites could help to build up an immune response that will protect kids for years to come. While you don’t want them covered in dust or constantly playing in dirt, a little bit of contact that is properly supervised by parents may actually be good for some kids.
There are no guarantees with allergies, of course. Despite a parent’s best efforts to protect their child from allergies by either exposing them early in life to typical allergens or making the environment as clean and safe as possible, a child may still develop a runny nose, reactionary sneezes, or itchy eyes in response to something in their environment that may be inciting a response. If your child shows symptoms like these, or others, tell your doctor right away to see if there is something that he or she can do to help your child manage them. Allergic symptoms that are left untreated may eventually develop into asthma.