“Children with allergies tend to have overly sensitized immune systems that react to certain airborne substances called ‘triggers,’” said Dr. Susan Adham, a pediatrician affiliated with Sutter Delta Medical Center and Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation. “One of the best ways to help your child’s allergies is to avoid triggers.”
Typical triggers for seasonal allergies include pollen, mold or dust. When a child’s immune system reacts to these triggers, it releases a chemical called histamine that causes allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing.
Can hypoallergenic pets help relieve your child’s allergies? According to Adham, they probably will not: “Pet allergies – usually related to a dog or a cat – are triggered by a protein found in your pet’s skin flakes known as dander. Because even hypoallergenic dogs and cats have skin, they can cause allergies, whether they have short fur, no fur or non-shedding fur. How much dander a pet sheds can vary by breed and even between animals of the same breed, so it’s important to ‘try out’ a potential pet around your child to see how she or he will react.”
There are things you can do to alleviate your child’s allergies. Consider keeping your child’s bedroom a no-pet zone so that dander doesn’t accumulate, and be sure to use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter.
Another way to avoid triggers is keep your child inside when the pollen count is high.
Julie Ruiz-Wibbelsmann is the writer/publications coordinator for Sutter Health East Bay Region.