Category Archives: Allergies

Day 2 – Introduction to Allergies

Allergies (food or environmental), asthma and eczema are among the allergy related conditions that may be seasonal, lifelong or outgrown.  It is possible if you have one condition, there is a greater likelihood to develop others. But there are cases where it’s unrelated or just a singular event.
Here are five things you should know about allergy-related conditions:
·       Allergens stimulate your body’s immune response to whatever you touch, breathe, ingest from foods or drinks or from medication injections, causing your body to defend itself and overreact to substances, such as peanuts and pollens (allergens). Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a type of itchy rash that can flare up when exposed to triggers such as allergens, heat and dry skin. In the winter and summer months on the East Coast, I’m always on high alert for eczema. Watching a baby suffer with itchy skin, even when treated with hydrocortisone cream can make you feel helpless, but  offers good advice and resources to deal with eczema for your little ones.
·       Allergies can trigger asthma, which is inflammation of the lungs and airway, making it difficult to breathe. Irritants for asthma can range from pollen, dust, and pollution to tobacco smoke and exercise. As soon as the spring season (pollen) and fall season arrives (ragweed) nears, keep the shelves stocked with antihistamines. It is especially helpful to track your local allergy forecast using the tools at in order to manage your allergies and asthma during seasons with known triggers.  
·        Symptoms of an allergic reaction can cross the spectrum from itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing and wheezing to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an allergic symptoms that can affect different areas of body, causes difficulty breathing and can be fatal without the immediate administration of epinephrine (EpiPen). Food allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis, but other allergens can risk a anaphylactic reaction and it can be severe for those who have asthma. For those newly diagnosed with the risk of anaphylaxis, The Allergist Mom has an informative post that explains the science and symptoms behind anaphylaxis.
      You can now request a $0 co-pay EpiPen Card and save on your 2-pak prescription, visit to learn more.

·        Schools are a high risk environment for food allergy reactions and one in 25 school-aged kids have food allergies according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who are newly diagnosed with food allergies and anaphylaxis, it may be helpful to have an Anaphylaxis Action Plan that has been reviewed and approved by your physician and accessible for anyone who cares for your child. Samples are available for download at AAAAI and FARE

·      Federal legislation was introduced in 2011 to allow schools to have stock epinephrine auto-injectors. Today, nearly two dozen states have introduced some form of School Access to Emergency Epinephrine legislation to save the lives of those who experience an anaphylactic reaction and for those who lack a prescribed EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) in their states, including my home state of Maryland. Support is still needed to urge passage of federal legislation. Visit Food Allergy and Research Education to learn more and write your representative and senator. 

About 46-76 percent of food allergy reactions happen in the classroom
·        The top eight allergens are eggs, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, nuts, tree nuts and soy.  But there are other allergens such as fruits and vegetables.  Those with celiac disease are also at risk for food allergies and you can check out one person’s journey at When I find it difficult to manage my own daughter’s food allergies, I also visit as a reminder there are ways to thrive with food allergies.

Spring allergies drop a lesson of patience

Spring has sprung with beauty, but the allergy meds for my five year old are in full bloom unlike any other season since she was first diagnosed with multiple allergies and asthma.  After reading to my daughter’s class, The Princess and the Peanut Allergy, my daughter came up to me with swollen, bumpy eyelids and said she wanted to go home.   I was relieved to hear many kindergartners joyfully share knowledge about food allergies. I was even amazed at how one could describe his own nut allergies and properly pronounce a big juicy word like macadamia. Allergies have truly expanded our vocabulary at a young age.


One of many thank you notes from the class during Reader Day
But I knew my reminder lesson for the day would be more about my daughter’s spring allergies and not about her food allergies. Swollen, itchy eyelids are just the prelude response to pollen, which is the known culprit to trigger asthma attacks during this time of year. So, we made a quick visit to the school nurse for temporary eye wash relief and headed to the pediatrician.
The doctor listened to her lungs and heard no sounds of wheezing. Then she looked at the bumps around her puffy eyes and the eczema around her neck that suddenly reappeared after being dormant for months.   This is when she pulled out the prescription pad, tapped the screen of the electronic medical record and started typing away. Now, we’ve been through the spring song and dance of inhalers, hydrocortisone creams and antihistamines for two years. But, somehow we never needed the tune of allergy eye drops until this day.
Our doctor recommended an over-the-counter eye drop like, Zaditor, and prescribed another type of ophthalmic solution made by Alcon. Relieved to provide my daughter with some relief before the weekend filled with activities, I was ready to sprinkle a few drops of comfort only to my own discomfort and a true test of patience. 
Have you ever tried to give eye drops to a five year old? The maneuvers and tactics are unlike any other.
“Look this way. Tilt your head. Oops, open your eye. Let’s lay down. Okay, just imagine rain drops falling in your eyes. It’s like splashing in a pool.  Oh, I forgot you always wear goggles in the pool.” After many failed blinking attempts, we finally succeeded to get a drop in each eye. 
Within minutes she was smiling again. We made the best of her early dismissal day and went out for a late lunch. A day well spent in more ways than one after leaving the pharmacy. Four days later, her eyes are clear just in time for School Picture Day today. I’m relieved we’ve steered clear of any asthma issues thanks to understanding the trigger of pollen, but I’m still on high alert.
Today is World Asthma Day and this experience is a great reminder that pollen is one of many triggers for asthma attacks. You can control asthma and thrive through all seasons. Spring allergies are only for a season, but the will of a mama’s patience is a lifetime.

-Tia Howard

Follow me @theallergymama