Question: My son is allergic to cats, but my mother-in-law (who occasionally babysits for him at her home) just got one. How can I help ease my son’s sniffling and sneezing?
Answer: That wasn’t very considerate of your mother-in-law… but what’s done is done. Perhaps she would consider placing the cat in another room while he’s there? Avoiding exposure is always more effective than treating allergic symptoms, which is especially important if he has asthma. When he comes home, have him take a shower or bath to wash off allergy-triggering dander, and then have him change into fresh clothes. Since allergy symptoms are typically related to the body’s production of chemicals called histamines, you can give him a conventional antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) before exposure and then as needed with symptoms. If you prefer to avoid conventional pharmaceuticals, there are fruits and vegetables (like apples, onions, and berries) that contain natural antihistamines like quercetin. If eaten on a regular basis, these foods can act as natural anti-inflammatories, potentially reducing the severity of allergy symptoms. Finally, there are homeopathic therapies for allergy symptoms including Boiron’s Sabadil, which may lessen itchy eyes and runny nose symptoms.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.