Can Allergies Affect Your Child’s School Performance

By Heather Legg

We know that this time of year allergies affect plenty of people. The numbers are high, about 40% of Americans are affected and that means children, too. When children suffer from allergies, they often miss school, or are feeling so bad at school that they can’t focus or concentrate. All of this can impact school performance. Think about the school day, children are often hungry or tired, throw a headache, sniffly nose and constant sneezing into that and it makes it even harder to focus. This is another instance of where allergies have to be managed or they could have long term negative impact.

Allergies take a toll on learning. In an article on Webmd, it is reported that “on any given day, about 10,000 of those children miss school because of their allergies. That’s a total of more than 2 million lost school days every year.” That’s a lot of lost time! Remember, too, this is actual time reported, not to mention when a kid feels just too lousy to concentrate. Often schools administer standardized testing in the spring, right in the height of allergy season. These tests may contribute to school ratings and ranks and student placement. What happens to the kid who bombs the test because he can’t stop sneezing or he’s too foggy to really concentrate because of his allergy med and the test is not a true reflection of his abilities?

If you’re finding that your child’s allergies are affecting school performance, you could be on the right track. Often allergy symptoms are hidden and those that affect aren’t the obvious ones. Because allergies can affect sleep patterns, kids with allergies may be more tired during allergy season. Allergies can also bring on behavior problems, especially in younger kids who don’t know how to really express their allergic symptoms. Allergy symptoms can manifest in more ways than sneezing and lead to bigger ailments like ear and sinus infections. Sometimes if the symptoms are severe, it’s better to keep your child home from school even though he’s not officially “sick.”

With good treatment, not only can your child learn better and focus more on school assignments, but his overall well being can improve. Doctors can recommend appropriate treatment for the specific symptoms, maybe some type of allergy medication or nasal spray to take while allergies are being in effect. Make sure you follow the doctor’s directions on administering the medicine for best results. Depending on the severity of the allergy, the doctor may also recommend allergy shots until the child shows improvement of symptoms. You can do some other things to help your child out at school like the following:

• Make sure your child’s teacher is aware of the allergy and the symptoms (she’ll be relieved all that sneezing and sniffling is not a contagious cold!).
• Talk to the teacher about possible triggers and how to avoid them. For instance, maybe on high pollen count days your child could stay inside with another class instead of going out to recess.
• If medication (eye drops, nasal spray, any medication) needs to be taken at school, make sure you follow all proper procedure and that your child is actually taking the medicine.
• Let the teacher know about any side effects that may occur from the medicine. It will make things easier for everyone.
• Have your child keep a box of tissues at his desk so he doesn’t need to keep getting up.

Nobody wants to suffer from hay fever. It’s annoying, uncomfortable, irritating, plus hard to avoid so many people just have to live with it. However, by treating allergies proactively and letting teachers know of your child’s situation, you and your child may be able to get through allergy season a little better and a little more focused.


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