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    Allergies

    Seasonal allergies cause runny noses, hay fever and numerous other uncomfortable symptoms for millions of children each year. Fortunately, new research is paving the way for new treatments that could help control symptoms. While the tried-and-true means of preventing allergy outbreaks still hold true, doctors believe that ongoing studies could yield treatments that prevent allergies from developing while also keeping symptoms to a minimum. There may come a day when so many kid's lives aren't interrupted by the onset of seasonal allergies.

    One of the newest breakthroughs in allergy treatments is a trio of pills that can help kids who suffer from severe grass and ragweed allergies. The pills, recently approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, must be taken at least three months prior to the start of the allergy season. In addition, kids who use this treatment must continue taking the pills for as long as they need protection. Two of the pills protect against grass allergies that are more common in the late spring and early summer, while the third pill inhibits ragweed allergies that more commonly begin in August. So far, patients who have used these tablets seem to have as much protection from allergy symptoms as they would from injected medications.

    New knowledge about allergies through research may also usher in the creation of new, helpful seasonal allergy treatments. Researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently conducted a study that indicated estrogen may be responsible for enhancing allergic reactions, which explains why women tend to suffer from more extreme seasonal allergy symptoms than men.

    In another study - this one published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine - researchers discovered a trend that children who underwent regular acupuncture often experienced improvements in the frequency and severity of their allergy symptoms. That study examined the cases of 422 children who had all tested positive for seasonal allergies from pollen. What made this study interesting is that while some participants received actual acupuncture, others simply had acupuncture needles stuck into their bodies at random. Although the placebo group reported mild improvements in symptoms, the participants who received real acupuncture experienced more significant improvements in their conditions. This has researchers optimistic that natural and alternative treatments may be helpful for children with severe seasonal allergies.

    Advancements in immunotherapy are also helping children control uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Immunotherapy is the intentional exposure of the body to diseases and allergens with the goal of gradually building up a natural resistance. Children with seasonal allergies can be exposed to small amounts of pollen, dander and other substances that often cause outbreaks of symptoms. Eventually, children can work up to larger allergen exposures while developing fewer symptoms. Immunotherapy empowers the body's natural defenses to help children control their seasonal allergies; the only downside is that building up a tolerance requires enduring unpleasant symptoms.

    As a possible boon to immunotherapy, researchers are currently exploring the possibility of an allergy vaccine using particles that behave similarly to viruses. This would be significant because children who use immunotherapy treatment wouldn't have to worry about adverse symptoms while their immune systems are becoming more resistant.

    Which seasonal allergy remedies are making the biggest difference right now? Most children control their seasonal allergy symptoms with antihistamines, decongestants, steroid nasal sprays and anticholinergic nasal sprays. Most nasal spray relief products can be purchased over the counter, but children who suffer from severe allergies or asthma may need extra-strength medication available with a doctor's prescription. Antihistamines and decongestants are usually enough for most children to control their symptoms, and they're also the first lines of defense as recommended by most doctors. These medications can be used frequently with little side effects. Allergy shots, the method of delivering immunotherapy, can be frequently administered to help children who are suffering from severe seasonal allergies.

    Prevention is the best course of action for people who are vulnerable to seasonal allergies. The seasonal allergy season officially begins in the early spring, when grass starts growing at accelerated rates and flowers bloom nationwide. Longer days and warmer weather leads to more people cutting their grass on sunny days, which can contribute to seasonal allergy symptoms for people who live in more rural or suburban areas. The seasonal allergy season usually hits its peak in May, but different allergens peak at various times of the year, which means most seasonal allergies don't usually fade until winter. Even then, people who are allergic to tree pollen may still suffer from seasonal allergies.

    People who regularly get seasonal allergies can do many things to limit their exposure to allergens. The most important tip is to stay inside on dry or windy days when airborne pollen is expected to be at its peak. Avoid doing activities such as mowing your lawn or pulling weeds; consider finding a neighborhood kid who wants to earn some money doing yard work. After going outside on dry days, change your clothes and wash the clothes you were wearing. Pollen can cling to your clothes for hours, causing you to develop seasonal allergy symptoms long after you've gone back inside. Likewise, only dry your laundry indoors, even if you're air drying your clothes.

    Also, know how to find the daily air quality rating in the city or county where you live. During the peak of your allergy season, you can check the daily rating to see whether you're better off staying indoors. In areas where seasonal allergies are more problematic, local TV and radio stations often distribute information about air quality ratings. People who suffer from severe allergies can start taking medication as soon as they learn about upcoming periods of poor air quality. Pollen counts are highest in the morning, so taking care of outdoor activities in the afternoon can minimize exposure to allergens.

    If you suffer from frequent or uncomfortable allergy symptoms, talk to your doctor about things you can do to find more relief in your day-to-day life. You can also look forward to the fact that doctors and researchers are constantly working to develop new, more effective treatments to help people manage their symptoms. Medications are suitable for most people to control their symptoms, and immunotherapy has helped countless others to live without the constant annoyance of seasonal allergies. This is a health problem that affects millions of adults and children in the United States, and most of the unpleasant symptoms of seasonal allergies can be mitigated by taking the right steps to avoid exposure to allergens.

    -By Acolades
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