Hay Fever & Children: Beware of Asthma

About seven percent of children between the ages of six and seven and 15 percent of those aged 13 to 14 suffer from hay fever. They fight during the pollen season with sneezing fits, runny nose and itchy eyes. This does not only affect playing outdoors. Hay fever children can also concentrate poorly at school. Therefore, in the pollen season, often the school performance.

Early treatment is important

"Hay fever in children should not be taken lightly, " warns the chairman of the Society for Pediatric Allergology and Environmental Medicine (GPA), Professor Carl Peter Bauer from Gaißach. He advises early treatment by a pediatrician who specializes in allergies: "Hay fever can turn into chronic asthma and can be prevented with specialist therapy."

Hay fever often causes asthma

The immune system of children with hay fever is hypersensitive to certain proteins from hazel, alder, birch or grass pollen. The result is an inflammatory reaction of the mucous membranes after pollen contact noticeable by swelling, redness, itching and secretion. In about every third child with hay fever develops at some point an additional allergic asthma with coughing, wheezing and attacks of respiratory distress.

The doctor calls this "floor change" because the allergy has risen from the nose to the bronchi down one floor. "The first sign of an onset of asthma is often a dry, irritating cough at night, and at the latest with this alarm, a doctor's visit is urgently needed, " explains Bauer. Other typical symptoms of allergic asthma include wheezing, wheezing and shortness of breath, because the bronchial muscles are cramping. The swollen mucous membrane and a tough mucus in the respiratory tract make breathing even more difficult.

Proper therapy for hay fever

Even children with mild asthma need a consistent therapy. This not only improves the symptoms, but it can also prevent the asthma from getting worse or more chronic over the years. Because seizures of allergic asthma are initially caused only by the contact with allergy triggers, in the later course of the disease, if the bronchial tissue is already damaged by the frequent inflammation, unspecific triggers such as cold, stress, dust and irritants can cause an asthma attack.

And: Asthma can lead to death from acute respiratory distress. According to the Federal Statistical Office, about 1, 800 people die of bronchial asthma each year in Germany. Asthma is often reported in death certificates as a cause of death, even if the death has occurred because of heart failure, a pulmonary embolism or another acute event, "says pulmonologist and allergist Professor Gerhard Schultze-Werninghaus, President of the Germans Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI) from Bochum, to concerns. He estimates that in Germany only a few hundred people die each year from asthma. "The number of deaths from asthma has been declining for many years, one reason for this being modern active substances and the guideline-based - early - use of cortisone for inhalation, " explains Schultze-Werninghaus.

Asthma in children

Although asthma therapy has made great progress, the incidence of children with asthma continues to increase: the proportion of children with asthma symptoms between the ages of six and seven years has increased from 9.6% to 12.8% between 1995 and 2000, Thus, every eighth child is affected. For adolescents aged 13 to 14, an increase in asthma frequency is also discussed.

"The study found that the number of people with typical asthma symptoms is different, but there is a difference between persistent asthma and asthma symptoms that can be seen in other diseases, and fortunately not many adolescents have chronic asthma, " she says the pediatrician Bauer.

Children with hay fever to specialist

With allergy-ill children, the transition to a specialist is inevitable. First and foremost, the pediatric allergologist provides an important basis for successful treatment on the basis of the medical history and allergy tests. "With the drugs available today, patients can be virtually symptom-free - even in the pollen season, " says Bauer. Thus, antihistamines block a messenger substance of allergic inflammation.

Modern preparations - especially important for school children - no longer tired. Cortisone-containing nasal sprays, with regular use, can also be of great help for hay fever. "The new cortisones only work in the nose and hardly get into the bloodstream anymore, so there is no reason to fear any side effects." In case of persistent complaints advises the pediatrician Professor Bauer on specific immunotherapy.

This "allergy vaccination" with molecularly standardized allergen preparations prevents further sensitization and, as the only therapy, reduces the risk of changing floors, ie the extension of the allergy to bronchial asthma. Decisive for the success of the treatment is the timely start of therapy. In children with hay fever or mild allergic asthma, specific immunotherapy can also provide long-term healing.

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