Many parents of children with ADHD or other neurologically-based challenges have noticed their children seem especially vulnerable to springtime allergens. Although the discomfort caused by runny noses, coughing and itchy eyes is obvious, there are deeper and more problematic connections between seasonal allergies and cognition. School work can suffer during allergy season. Parental awareness of this connection helps to mitigate these effects so the child stays academically afloat.
How seasonal allergies affect cognition
When a child's immune system perceives a substance in the environment (such as pollen) as an invader, it triggers a cascade of internal responses known to include seasonal allergy brain fog as well as more familiar symptoms. With some allergies, the microglia cells in the brain are activated, and “this interferes with higher brain function,” states Russell Blaylock, MD.
Research has found an interesting relationship between ADHD and allergies, according to the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI). Cause and effect are not clear in this relationship, but scientists remind parents to be aware that allergy medications are not free of side effects. Health Central reports that many children’s ADHD symptoms worsen during springtime allergy season.
Controlling allergies will improve academic performance
To provide symptomatic relief to children suffering from seasonal allergies, it’s best to begin with natural methods of prevention and treatment:
- Choose times and places for outdoor activities on the basis of pollen count. Spring vacations and weekend outings should be arranged in locations with fewer flowering trees and grasses, when possible. (Beaches are a great option.)
- Help children wash their hair and change clothes when they come inside from playing. Launder the clothing to remove any lingering pollen.
- If pets have been playing outdoors, don’t let them into the child’s bedroom. Keep bedroom windows closed, and use air conditioning if cooling is needed. The relief of an allergy-free space each night can make a big difference during pollen season.
- Natural allergy remedies such as butterbur and astragalus have been found effective against seasonal allergies, according to the U.S. Government’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. These and other herbal remedies are worth trying before turning to pharmaceutical options.
When working to ease the effects of seasonal allergens, consider the health of the entire body, including the child's brain. Academic success depends on a healthy and well-balanced brain; brain health begins with a well-nourished body that isn't struggling against allergy attacks.
The interaction between allergies and neuro-behavioral disorders is a complex one, which scientists are still working to understand. The wisest course for parents is to view their child as profoundly unique and individual, and to learn as much as possible about that one child’s allergy and behavioral sensitivities.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment of specific medical conditions. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you and your family.