So, your child has been diagnosed with allergies. You’ve probably heard plenty about children’s allergy medicine and it affects, or about breakthrough therapies that can help your child. In this article, we debunk seven allergy medication myths that can make the difference between short-term symptom management and effective long-term treatment.
7 Children’s Allergy Medicine Myths
Myth #1. My child’s allergy medicine makes her feel better, so it must be treating her allergies
Most children’s allergy medicine relieve symptoms of allergic disorders. For example, antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids provide relief from symptoms of allergic rhinitis. That does not mean they are “treating” allergies. Allergies indicate an abnormality with the immune system. That’s why, in many patients, symptoms return once they stop taking their medication. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is one way to actually treat allergies. It corrects the abnormality that lies within the immune system.
Myth #2: Allergy medications always contain steroids
There are many types of medications used to relieve symptoms of allergic disorders. Only some of them contain corticosteroids, commonly known as steroids. This is also true for asthma inhalers: Some of them contain corticosteroids and others do not. If you are concerned about long-term use or possible side effects for your child, ask your allergist or pediatrician.
Myth #3: Asthma inhalers can be addictive
Inhalers are not addictive. There are two types of inhalers: those that prevent asthma attacks (preventer inhalers) and those that relieve an asthma attack (rescue inhalers). Many types of childhood asthma actually require regular use of preventer inhalers to avoid asthma attacks.
Myth #4: My child uses a rescue inhaler to stop asthma symptoms, so she doesn’t need to use a preventer inhaler
This is a common misbelief which can cause long-term respiratory damage. Rescue inhalers usually contain drugs that dilate the constricted bronchi to provide relief from breathlessness and other symptoms. They do not reduce inflammation of the bronchi. Such inflammation, if allowed to persist over a long period of time, can cause permanent damage. If your physician has advised you to use preventer inhalers regularly (this depends upon severity of your asthma), it is wise to follow his or her advice.
Myth #5: Allergen-specific immunotherapy can treat all types of allergies
Allergen-specific immunotherapy cannot treat all types of allergies. It can only treat IgE-mediated allergies. Its effectiveness depends upon several factors, including the allergen(s) involved, the type of allergic disorder and the mode of immunotherapy. Currently, allergen-specific immunotherapy is most effective against allergic rhinitis. At present, it is not an effective treatment for food allergies.
Myth #6: Allergen-specific immunotherapy works as an alternative to medications
Not exactly. Although allergen-specific immunotherapy starts working on the immune system from the very first dose, it takes a few weeks to take full effect. Because it specifically impacts the immune system, it does not relieve symptoms the way medications can do. Typically, patients need to take take both immunotherapy and medications together. Once immunotherapy becomes clinically effective, patients can reduce or possibly eliminate their allergy medication.
Myth #7: Allergen-specific immunotherapy = allergy shots
Allergen-specific immunotherapy is popularly known as “allergy shots” because it is administered as subcutaneous injections. This type of administration is also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT). However, there is another, easier-to-tolerate delivery method. With sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), treatment is administered as drops under the tongue. SLIT does not require injections.