Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Our Allergy Experience

Over the last 3 years, I've shared our ups and downs with Connor and him being sick so often. While some of these bouts of illness were simply colds and viruses, other times it was from allergies. Because we lived in Texas the first 2 years of his life, we really struggled to figure out what was bothering him. Now that we've been back in Ohio for a full year, we made the attempt to figure out what his allergy triggers are and how we can make life easier on the poor child. This lead us to having allergy testing completed yesterday. I want to share some our experience, results and action plan with those of you who have little ones suffering from allergies as well. Because it just be allergies but no parent likes the helpless feeling of not being able to soothe and comfort your child.

Connor's History
We first started noticing problems with Connor when he was about a year old. What seemed like a cold that wouldn't leave turned into a sinus infection. Once that was cleared up, we noticed that while he wasn't congested anymore, he had this cough that lingered. Soon after, he had a second cold or virus and ended up being full of snot, congestion and a cough that led to him being diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease (link the condition and learn more from an online source if you'd like). Our minds were blown. How does a cold turn into a condition that requires daily breathing treatments via an inhaler? 6 weeks later the cough was gone and our happy baby was back; just in time for warm weather. From early 2013 until now, we've been fighting either a cold or allergy attack after another. Connor was given medicine after medicine with no luck. We were truly at our wits in.

November 2015
Moving to Ohio meant finding a new doctor for Connor. Luckily, we found a MD that we love and that listens to what I have to say. As CJ's Momma, I know my son. I know when something is wrong. Having a runny, congested nose and a cough that lingers and brings with coughing fits that result in C throwing up is not normal. Usually we have about a 4-6 week window of pure Hell, with Connor being sick with these conditions. When Connor turned 3, the doctor suggested that we try a new medication that has been off limits prior to because of his age. We were given liquid Claritin and a chew-able Singular along with a referral to an allergist for testing. Within weeks, we were seeing results and Connor was back to his Frankenstein ways.

Allergy Testing
When scheduling our appointment to have Connor tested, we were told that he would need to go off his Claritin 5 days prior to the procedure. Within 3 days of him stopping that medicine, he began to have a runny nose, filled with my least favorite substance, green ooze. Clearly he needs this medicine and it's obvious that he is suffering from some sort of allergy. But what is he allergic to?

During our appointment yesterday we were asked about Connor's history along with a handful of other questions regarding different conditions that he may come in contact with. For example, does he live in a smoking household? No. Does he have pets? Yes, G. Rudy Cat. Does he have any known food allergies? We are unsure as we were told he had a dairy intolerance as an infant so we've been giving him almond milk since age one. The doctor decided to test a total of 20 allergens. 20!! The common ones we were interested in were pollen, molds, dust and dust mites, animal dander, insect stings, dairy and some medicines. I snapped a handful of photos of our visit. Please note that while Connor's back looks horrific, he actually did quiet well during the exam and within minutes was asking for some bubble gum and his action figures. 

Our Results and Action Plan
I'm going to share the good before the bad. The good is that Connor doesn't have a dander allergy nor does he have a milk allergy. This means we can start slowly introducing cow's milk into his diet and we can keep our cat. The bad news. Connor has a high allergy to trees, grass and dust. My first thought was how in the world does a little boy be a little boy with such outdoorsy allergies? My second thought was dust? How much more do I need to clean?! With this allergies he will have a tough Spring and Summer in Ohio. Moving to the beach where this is little grass or trees is sounding awfully appealing.

Connor was prescribed a new medication to replace the Claritin. We are going to try this new combination for the next 4 months and then have a check-up with the doctor in June, which is when grass is being mowed and played in more often. Additionally, we have a referral out for a visit with an ENT. While no one mentioned having any type of surgery but we need a consult with the ENT because we have a secondary issue going on with Connor as well. He suffers from "kissing tonsils", meaning when not on allergy and breathing medicines his tonsils swell causing his tonsils to touch (kiss). Often times this leads to having your tonsils removed. Like I said, we are unsure of what our next step his regarding his tonsils and/or adenoids removed.

Advice and Suggestions
The allergist gave us some ideas on how to make living with allergies as easy as possible. First up, he said to be sure to bath Connor daily as to remove any pollen/dust from his body prior to going to bed. We are good about this but in the winter months tend to give Connor a bath every other day so his skin doesn't dry out. We also were told to use Allergease bedding to help with dust and dander. The doctor also told us that in the Summer that the pollen count is higher in the evening so we need to keep that in mind when spending time outdoors.

All in all, we had a really amazing experience with the specialist. While the testing itself was less than desirable and Connor did not care for being poked and made to lay still, we learned a lot about our little guy's body, what's been going on and how we can prevent him from dealing with so much sickness in the future. As someone who has little to no allergy issues at all this is a whole new ballgame for me. As a Mom, you want only the best for your child and I finally feel that we have the answers we needed to get our guy the help he deserves.

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