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In addition, the recent availability of newer therapeutic agents for use in children has been extremely useful in managing rhinitis as well as asthma:
- Non-sedating antihistamines available in liquid form and rapidly dissolving tablet form can be very beneficial.
- Sodium cromolyn, which is an over the counter product, used as a nasal spray to prevent nasal allergy symptoms has also been shown to be effective.
- Inhaled nasal corticosteroids have been also shown to be quite effective in ameliorating allergic inflammation.
- A leukotriene antagonist, a new class of drugs, has been approved for the treatment of childhood asthma and is available in a chewable form. Such agents can decrease asthma symptoms and also improve the quality of life.
In summary, allergies are partly due to genetic tendencies of a child born to parents or relatives with allergies to react to normally harmless substances in the environment (allergens). Common allergens include pollen grains, dust mites, house dust, airborne mold particles and animal dander. Long-term complications of allergy in children include sinus problems (sinusitis) and recurrent ear problems such as serious and chronic fluid in the middle ear (otitis media). Those conditions may require antibiotics as well as, in the care of ears, the placement of ear tubes for ventilation.
It is my opinion that the biggest challenge we face together as physicians and parents is the lack of participation of the allergy specialist in the care of our allergic and asthmatic children. Primary care providers, such as family physicians and pediatricians, need to be encouraged involve the allergist more frequently in the care of their patients and to trust the allergist as an equal partner in the delivery of appropriate health care. Meeting this challenge will be extremely important to both the patient and the parent.