Trees of the Odem Forest on the Golan Heights.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Allergic asthma and chronic runny nose will soon increase with the oncoming change of seasons. For many, this will lead to disrupted sleep and reduced performance in school and at work. To deal with these problems, specialists from the Israeli Association for Allergy and Clinical Immunology recommend that asthmatic children be taken in for medical checkups at the beginning of the school year.
A chronic runny nose due to allergy is connected to a variety of complications besides allergic asthma, including disturbed sleep, lack of concentration and reduced functioning. The most common causes are pet fur, molds and dust mites, and pollen from grass and olive, pecan and cypress trees, said Dr. Nancy Agmon-Levin, president of the association and senior lecturer at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine of the Tel-Aviv University.
There is a direct connection between chronic rhinitis and the sleep problems that the condition causes, creating difficulties in activities of daily living. About 80 percent of adults and children with such allergies face moderate to serious problems with daily functions, compared with 40% who have light allergic conditions.
More than a fifth of schoolchildren have chronic rhinitis, the society said.
Both adults and children with the condition demonstrate behavior problems and reduced social skills.
Although allergens can cause trouble any time of year, symptoms are most serious in the fall, when a concomitant rise is seen in viral infections, such as the flu. During this season – when plant allergens proliferate and dust mites flourish – nearly 30% of children aged four to seven with the allergy display disquiet and other behavior problems, compared with only six percent of those without chronic allergies.
Assessment of conditions and proper treatment can improve the situation significantly, allowing sufferers to sleep and function better, according to Agmon-Levin.
Signs of allergies in children include finishing rolls of toilet paper or boxes of tissues, seeming to have colds all the time, waking up sneezing, having stuffed and itchy noses, and frequent clearing of throats.
Treatments are largely centered around a new generation of medications. These include antihistamines that do not cause sleepiness or most of the other side effects usually associated with such drugs, steroid- based nasal sprays, and other drugs that fight inflammation.
Agmon-Levin also said that immunotherapy, in which sufferers are gradually exposed to allergens via injections, greatly reduces sensitivity to allergens.