In counties all across Maryland, Virginia and the DC Metro area, many children are starting the 2020 school year in a different way than ever before: by participating in remote learning. This is by far the safest option for any student who is able to attend school virtually as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if your child is susceptible to allergies, increased time in the home may also mean increased exposure to indoor allergens that haven’t been as much of a concern in years past.
At the Allergy & Asthma Center, we want all of our pediatric and adolescent patients to be as equipped to succeed as they possibly can, even in strange times such as these. Here are a few tips from us on how to ensure that your child’s at-home schooling space is free from indoor allergens that may impede their ability to learn:
No Pets in the Classroom
During a regular school year, your child spends around seven hours out of the house before coming home to play and cuddle with your family pets. During home learning, your pets may be a more consistent presence, increasing your child’s exposure and exacerbating an existing pet allergy that may not have been previously diagnosed. If your child is sneezing, coughing or exhibiting other allergy symptoms while trying to complete virtual school, check to see if your dog or cat has entered the room. If it seems to be a pattern, try to keep your pets out of your child’s learning environment as much as possible before visiting an allergy specialist for an official diagnosis.
Keep Learning Areas Dust-Free
Dust allergies -- which are actually an allergy to dust mites -- are extremely common, affecting nearly 20 million people in the United States alone. With statistics like these, it’s entirely possible that your child’s sniffling and sneezing is a result of them being one of those 20 million. To avoid dust allergy symptoms interfering with your child’s at-home schooling, be sure to keep their learning area freshly vacuumed and dusted as much as possible. This is especially important if your child has asthma, as dust allergy symptoms (and the presence of dust in general) can increase both the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. You can even involve your child in the cleaning process, teaching them an extra lesson of accountability, helping around the house, and managing their own allergy symptoms.
Check For Signs of Mold
An increased amount of time spent in the home means more exposure to anything that may be harmful to your child or trigger their allergies. But what if the allergen seems to be invisible? Mold can be tricky to spot, and by the time there are visible spores in the house, the problem may be more advanced than you realize. Common symptoms of mold allergies in children include the following:
- Sneezing and congestion
- Coughing and tightness of the chest
- Postnasal drip
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Dry skin
If your child is displaying these symptoms on a chronic basis, and you can’t seem to pinpoint a more obvious allergen, it’s possible that your home is host to an irritant mold. The only way to be certain that mold is responsible for your child’s allergies is to receive an allergy test from an allergy specialist, so don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment as soon as you can.
Back-to-school 2020 is already presenting some new challenges and obstacles for students and parents alike. The team of specialists at the Allergy and Asthma Center are here to help you ensure that your child’s allergies aren’t among them.
At the Allergy & Asthma Center, we are taking every precaution necessary to protect you from COVID-19 while providing continuous care. If you’re ready to address your allergy symptoms, schedule your appointment today.