Another big issue I deal with in our clinic is allergies. So, let’s start out with a very brief and simple explanation of what an allergy is. An allergy is an immune system response to some “thing” that causes an inflammatory reaction. Most people are familiar with many of these reactions. The reactions include itchy irritated eyes, nasal congestion/sneezing/itching, post nasal drip, and a scratchy, itchy, irritated throat. More significant allergic responses include eczema, asthma, and hives. The most severe allergic response is termed anaphylactic shock, where the airways swell shut and breathing is no longer possible.
What I commonly see in my clinic in my patients with allergies:
• Dark circles under the eyes
• “Thick” creases under the eyes called Dennie’s Folds
• Seasonal behavioral issues
• “Immediate” behavioral issues following some exposure (food, pet, environmental, etc)
• Ear/sinus infections
• Attention Deficit Disorder
• Sleep interruptions
• Aggressive behaviors
• General irritability
Evaluation by an allergist can certainly help to discern what specific environmental factors could be irritating your child. Common environmental sources of allergic responses include house dust mites, indoor molds, dogs, cats, and pollens. Another source of allergies, more commonly referred to as sensitivities, are foods. These food sensitivities can be tested with a simple blood test called an IgG ELISA food sensitivity profile.
Once environmental allergies and food sensitivities are figured out, the next task is to greatly limit the exposure of these allergens to the child. So, for example, if house dust mites are determined to be a problem, the parents may want to consider removing the carpeting in the child’s room and lay down non-toxic hard wood flooring.
It is not entirely possible to remove all the allergens, especially when the child goes outdoors. These steps taken here should help minimize allergic reactions within the body substantially
Steps to Management of Allergies
1. Ensure the diet is cleaned up – remove ALL foods that come back as “sensitive”
2. Consider having the Heating/Ventilation system is cleaned, and this may involve cleaning duct work
3. Pull carpet in bedroom and replace with non-toxic hard-wood flooring
4. Remove all dust collectors including stuffed animals
5. Wrap box springs and mattress in 100% cotton barrier
Possible Medication for Allergies
• Quercetin: natural anti-histamine and anti-oxidant
• Nasonex or similar nasal spray (often NOT preferred by children!)
Some children do not do well with anti-histamines and may need allergy shots or desensitizing procedures such as low dose antigen therapy or provocation, neutralization, desensitization.
Remember: allergic responses are indeed inflammatory and inflammation can contribute to multiple behavioral problems. Taking care of allergies is one more step in minimizing inflammation and helping the child not only feel better but also may impact the autistic behaviors in a positive way.