This spring I asked you to share the questions you have about allergies. They ranged from simple ones about timing of meds to kids, to serious ones about when to get your kids tested for allergies.

I reached out to Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Amani Chehade and got your biggest questions answered. This post should help you understand allergies a little more, but really you should just walk in and ask your Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist yourself! They’re friendly, helpful, and know your personal circumstances best.

Here’s what you wanted to know about allergies:

1) Can you outgrow an allergy?

It’s possible, depending on the allergen. It also varies from person to person. The theory of outgrowing an allergy generally falls in line with the thinking that you have become more desensitized to the allergen over time.

For example, about 60-80 per cent of children with egg and milk allergies outgrow them by the age of 16, but only about 20 per cent of children outgrow a peanut allergy. However, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before coming to any conclusions, particularly if you have severe allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing.

2) What would you recommend for kids that have allergies and asthma? Do any OTC medications interact?

The best treatment is to avoid the allergen altogether, but most over-the-counter medications are okay for children who have asthma.

I always recommend checking with your local pharmacist to make sure you’re selecting the right medication for your child and ensure there won’t be any hazardous interactions between existing medications. To avoid daytime drowsiness, allergy medications such as Claritin® are generally good options for for kids.

The other important thing to be aware of is that medications such as Aleve® can sometimes cause asthma symptoms to flare up. Again, if your child is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, you should consult with your healthcare provider immediately.

3) What age would I put my child through an allergy test? If they require allergy medication, what dosage should I start with?

There is no gold standard as to when a child should get an allergy test. Typically, most kids start
getting skin testing at around six months. However, children who present with recurrent symptoms of eczema, difficulty breathing, wheezing, nasal inflammation, and adverse reactions to food and insect stings may be good candidates for allergy tests at an earlier age.

4) Is it necessary to get tested for allergies before starting a medication? What are the most common outdoor allergies?

In theory, any person could be allergic to any medication. What pharmacists are most concerned about is the severity of the allergy.

In most cases, if an individual has not taken a particular medication in the past, it is essential to monitor for allergic reactions such as redness, itchiness, hives, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing. This is particularly important for children.

Similar to medications, people can be allergic to just about anything in the environment. The most common outdoor allergens are typically grass, pollen and animal dander.

5) It’s confusing to try to select an allergy medication — should I choose one that covers the symptoms I recognize, or should I choose one that says it covers them all?

Allergy medications are available in all kinds of forms such as pills, liquids, inhalers, nasal sprays,
eyedrops, skin creams and injections. Many people who suffer from seasonal allergies rely on
medication to find relief from their symptoms, but the number of choices available can leave
Canadians feeling overwhelmed.

Allergies usually have a few cardinal symptoms, including itchiness, nasal congestion, and a runny nose. For individuals who suffer from nasal congestion, using a sinus rinse before bed may help provide relief, but for daytime symptoms, they may want to use medication.

Typically, if all three of these common symptoms are present, it is recommended to choose a medication that will address all symptoms. It is important to note that medications such as nasal decongestants are not prescribed for long-term use, as they can cause several side effects.

In general, your local pharmacist can help assess your symptoms to better understand what’s causing your allergies and recommend appropriate solutions to give you relief.

This post is sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart

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