Allergic conditions range from mild “hay fever” to life-threatening anaphylaxis, and asthma is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization in children. A diagnosis of allergy, asthma or anaphylaxis can be a life-altering event for individuals and their families, and the costs associated with medical care and absences from work and school make this a significant public health issue.

A Positive Outlook is Key to Overcoming Obstacles

It is not uncommon for people with allergies and asthma to feel isolated and anxious. Sometimes there is a sense that others do not understand the gravity of their condition. It can also be difficult for parents to trust that a child with allergies or asthma will be safe and act responsibly. Those affected may also worry about the potential for a severe asthma attack or allergic reaction, though even mild cases can disrupt lifestyle if not well-managed. In all cases, the importance of a positive outlook cannot be understated; this is especially true when dealing with children, who are quick to adopt a nervous parent’s attitude.

While allergies and asthma cannot be cured, they can be effectively managed with proper education, preventive measures, and professional care.

Steps for Reducing Risks:

The best way to reduce the risks associated with these conditions is one of Awareness, Avoidance and Action.

"While allergies and asthma cannot be cured, they can be effectively managed with proper education, preventive measures, and professional care."

Step 1: Increase Awareness

Awareness starts with an accurate medical assessment, preferably by an allergist. This allows patients and their families to know exactly what prompts the reaction and to inform friends, teachers, and co-workers about the condition; having a letter from the physician on hand is helpful in this regard. While the patient and family may need some time to gain a thorough understanding of the implications of the diagnosis, it is vital to ensure that allergic or asthmatic children comprehend their condition well enough to be able to take responsibility for their own safety as soon as possible.

Step 2: Avoid & Prevent Exposure to Allergens

Avoidance involves preventing exposure to allergens. If the allergen is a food, adopting new eating habits and learning to read food labels carefully can present an initial challenge. If there is an allergy to airborne substances, exposure can be minimized by taking simple steps, like shutting windows on windy days.  Avoidance may also encompass taking preventative medications before the allergy season begins, which can make symptoms easier to control, and possibly prevent them. 

Step 3: Take Action

Action involves being prepared and knowing how to respond to worsening symptoms or an emergency. It is crucial for patients with severe allergies and asthma to carry both preventative and emergency medications, and that they be accessible at all times.  It is best to develop an emergency action plan with a physician, and to share it with others; in particular, parents of children with life-threatening allergies should meet with the school before the year begins to establish a plan of action. Special attention may be needed when the usual routine is altered, such as camp, vacations, start or change of school or job, and parties.

Education and preparation are keys to long-term safety

The outlook for allergy and asthma patients is positive. Public awareness campaigns and informational websites have vastly improved the public’s understanding of these conditions. Extensive medical research and pharmaceutical developments in recent years give hope for more effective treatment options. Though there is no such thing as a 100% risk-free lifestyle for people with asthma and allergies, most patients who seek appropriate medical care are able to enjoy a normal and productive life, with rare absences from school or work. The key is to manage risks and the associated anxiety by staying educated, informing others, and being prepared.