Monday, April 25, 2011

Food Allergies and Seasonal/Pet Allergies...Triple Whammy

Even though I've been dealing with my daughter's food allergies and seasonal allergies for years, I still find myself having to make tough calls about her health vs. socializing. We are fortunate to have so many understanding friends and neighbors but sometimes we just have to say "no" to one thing and find a different solution. And that doesn't have to be tragic.

I want to share a quick story because I sometimes feel that parents beat themselves up over the things their kids have to "miss out on" due to food allergies or other allergies.

My daughter and her really good friend have been trying to arrange a sleepover at the friend's house for several weeks now. This was supposed to take place this coming weekend. Well, right now, seasonal allergies are really taking a toll on my daughter's health. She's on medication but the pollen count is giving her a lot of stuffiness and breathing problems.

Last week, she hung out at her friend's house (the one who wanted to host the sleepover) and when she got home, she was stuffy, wheezing and needed her asthma inhaler. Turns out that the seasonal allergies that already existed were being aggravated even more by an apparent allergy to her friend's pet guinea pigs.

What to do? The date was arranged, the plans had been made, the hosting family couldn't be nicer or more accommodating with our daughter's food allergies.

I decided that we needed to host the sleepover at our house and try again at the friend's home when spring is over and the pollen count subsides. (My daughter is a lot better in the summer than the spring). My daughter has hung out with the guinea pigs in the past and not suffered intense symptoms, so I figured she just couldn't take the pet allergies and seasonal allergies all at once. I worried a little bit about offending the parents of my daughter's friend, but knew I needed to make the call.

Well, when my daughter came home for lunch, she had already taken care of it. She spoke to her friend, explained the problem and they decided the sleepover should be at our house. I didn't even need to sweat this. Obviously, it's no fun for a kid to have an asthma attack, so my daughter advocated for her own situation and it was resolved.

Everyone knows that it is more fun to attend a sleepover at someone else's house, so I did feel a little bit bad that my daughter couldn't do that this time. But you know what? She was OK with it.

I frequently hear from parents who are really sad that their child can't visit an ice cream shop like they, the parent, used to do as as a child. Or they worry that depriving their child of a treat at a birthday party will damage their child's self-esteem. I'm not saying that this can't happen, but kids are smart and resilient. Don't make a big deal about it and there's a good chance they might not, either.

My biggest obstacle now: deciding on an appropriate movie for the girls to watch. That's OK. Sometimes it's nice to be faced with a parenting challenge that's non-allergy related.


Randi said...

Thank you for posting this. My daughter is ana to tree nuts, severe indoor/outdoor allergies and severe pet allergies. The pet is almost the worst one socially. She can't be in a house w/any furry pets. That means we have 2 safe houses. One friends house and my parents. I can always bring food wherever we go, I can't have people get rid of their pets. My daughter is 5 and my husband and I know that we will be doing a lot of entertaining at our house!

Unknown said...

My son also has the triple allergies. The pollen count is starting to get him now too...oak tree pollen is his level 4 seasonal allergy that causes major breathing problems that result in ER trips. It's a hard I allow him to participate in the baseball clinic, or do I keep him inside in hopes to prevent the asthma attacks? Do I let him play soccer, or keep him inside? Do I let him play at a friend's house that has a dog, or do I keep him home? The seasonal allergies are the hardest of the allergies to control and prevent and treat...the pollen is simply everywhere, and we can't hide (no matter how hard we try sometimes!).

April said...

My son also has the triple whammy. ANA to tree nuts, allergic to peanuts and sesame plus horrendous season allergies and extremely allergic to cats. All family members have cats (multiple cats). If he spends more than 5 hours in a house with cats we have to do breathing treatments for a week just so he can breathe and not be stuffy. It's horrible.

Kate said...

this is very interesting to me, because my food allergic daughter who previously tested negative for cat allergies (and has been around cats w/no problems in the past) suddenly is sneezing, wiping eyes, etc. in the presence of the 2 cats that we're cat-sitting for my sister this week. It seems obvious to me that she has developed at least a mild allergy to cats. So I was just wondering whether you know -- is that common that people would be more prone to developing animal allergies if they already have food allergies? My guess is yes, but I have no real basis for saying that.

mandgmom said...

We also have all three of these types of allergies, and I have found my son (age 4) to be WONDERFUL at dealing with the disappointment of going to people's homes/not playing outside/etc. Sometimes kids surprise us! They are resilient!

Poker Chick said...

I think that's a huge point: "Don't make a big deal of it and they won't either". My daughter gets her own treat at birthday parties etc. and it's all she knows so it's no big deal. It's great to see her so well adjusted. And the bonus is she learns empathy for other kids. That's great that she handled the situation on her own! My 6 year old always asks me first when she's offered food and it makes me a bit sad, yes, but mostly proud that she handles it so well.

Unknown said...

This is a great post, thank you! The fact that your daughter was able to problem solve and work out a solution that made sense speaks volumes about the great job that you have done with her. My fourteen year old daughter is allergic to peanuts/tree nuts, pet dander and dust mites. We have been in the same situation many times. When you teach your child to think it through and make good, healthy plans it works out in a way that's dignified for everyone. I wish that I had been able to read your blog ten years ago when we started out on this journey!

Eve said...

Oh boy, seasonal allergies plus pet allergies? It sounds like a recipe for an asthma attack. Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone dealing with my bad allergies.