Francine Pearce, MD, a family physician with Franciscan Physician Network Family Health Center Frankfort in Frankfort, Illinois, answers your questions and shares expert insight to help you make informed decisions about children's participation in sports when they have allergies.
A. Absolutely. Our goal is to make sure your child maintains the normal activities that any child would. For the average child, using an antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Claritin is enough to keep the symptoms at bay. The best antihistamine is actually the one that works for you, because truly Claritin works great for some, not others, and I can say the same for Zyrtec and Allegra and all of them. So, when one antihistamine doesn't work, I would suggest trying another brand. They are similar but they're not identical, so you will find that one will work better for you.
Remember that there are two levels of allergy control. You start out with the antihistamine which hopefully should minimize the burning, itchy eyes, but when the child starts getting very congested you do need a decongestant. Mucinex, Sudafed and other brands are the more common ones, but any one that has a decongestant may be used.
For some children, they need a second level or even a third level of control to participate, but we absolutely encourage normal activity.
We encourage children getting out, running and playing as much as possible. In this era we have too many kids that are sitting and being sedentary so we want to encourage that. So sitting with your pediatrician, formulating a plan, following up to make sure your plan is working is the other most important thing, because if I give you one level of control, and it doesn't work, I don't want you to just stop and say, "Oh, no, it didn't really work well." We want you to actually come back in and further the discussion, and then we can make adjustments as needed.