Part of our role as Mom is to nurture the health of our children and families. When a member in our home suffers, this job grows challenging.
For the past several years, our home has dealt with asthma and allergy struggles that often became overwhelming.
This journey left me with questions of how to help my children’s bodies better fight and resist such severe attacks. This series is a peek into what worked for us….I’ll share resources, tips and hopefully point you to things that might work for your family.
Defining the Problem of Asthma and Allergies
These two culprits (widely known as part of the 4 A’s of childhood epidemics) often go hand in hand, with allergies (food or environmental) triggering asthma-type symptoms.
A very basic understanding is that allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system to harmless substances.
Symptoms of allergies may include:
- postnasal drip, runny nose
- sniffling, dark circles under eyes
- fatigue, poor sleep, headaches
- skin reactions such as eczema
- irritability, hyperactivity, poor concentration
Asthma is basically understood as inflammation of the passages of the respiratory system with excessive mucus production in the lungs, and spasms in muscles of the respiratory system. Doesn’t it sound awful?
Symptoms for asthma may include:
- wheezing, chest pain
- watery, itchy eyes
- loss of appetite, tiredness
Asthma attacks are frightening and can go on for hours and up to days. The attacks can be caused or triggered by allergies as I mentioned or also colds, respiratory infections or just too much exertion. Recently, I read that stress could be a possible trigger.
Forming a Plan to Approach Care Naturally
Severe asthma attacks need medical attention immediately — never delay as it could be life-threatening. I’ve spent too many trips to the hospital with a child wheezing excessively or barely able to breathe…I’m grateful for the level of medical care available to us. What if we lived in a country not so fortunate?
Between attacks and over time, we began to figure out a plan for helping our children’s bodies. I’ll share them in three parts:
CLEANSE. STRENGTHEN. NOURISH.
Because of the high tendency for allergies to influence asthma, avoiding common food allergens could be key in figuring out what triggers your child. We also chose to have our children tested for food allergies (blood test).
However, those tests are sometimes inaccurate we’ve found or may not give enough information as to the severity. One way to have your child’s body tell you what’s going on is by completing an elimination diet.
CLEANSE :: Elimination Diet for Food Allergies
Before helping young lungs and bodies to work better, it’s important to take out what isn’t working! An elimination diet is simply avoiding certain foods and then adding them back in one at a time slowly to ‘test’ the body’s reaction.
An explanation with tips on how-to is found here.
Common food allergens are: eggs, dairy products, peanut butter, chocolate, corn, wheat. There are others, but these are the most known to cause issues in asthma. Dairy is often a cause of excess nasal congestion, as is wheat. Foods have to be avoided for at least 2 weeks before reintroducing.
Tips for doing an elimination diet:
- taking out all possible allergens at once is recommended, we did it over several weeks and found this to be okay
- prepare, prepare! decide on what to eat ahead of time by making a menu plan.
- try to substitute for foods your children already enjoy (making your favorites food allergy friendly – Food Allergies on a Budget is a great resource, also tips on cooking for the whole family when everyone isn’t sensitive)
- keep a journal of what you did when
- I didn’t find a need to tell the children 🙂
By keeping a journal also of any symptoms as listed above that might appear when a food is eaten again, you’ll be have a decent indication if these are causing an issue. Or, you’ll find a child much healthier and better and may choose not to reintroduce certain foods!
To be honest, this was not always easy. The whole process could be overwhelming, yet we learned so much about what was going on.
Then, we made one food change that significantly influenced our kiddos’ health….then we cleansed our home and environment from possible allergens….
I’ll share in the next post! UPDATE: here’s Part II – Cleanse the Body
disclaimer: the information presented in this post is for informational and educational purposes alone. It is not intended to diagnose or treat, and all readers are encouraged to seek professional medical assistance before implementing any suggestions and to discern if such changes or suggestions should be pursued. thank you.