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This study was performed by the Baylor College of Medicine and published in the December 1999 issue of Journal of Asthma. Baylor tested a new “Asthma Trigger Checklist.” Twenty schools in 2 urban areas were tested and this is what they found.
Classroom irritants are chalk dust, markers, etc. Inadequate ventilation was also a problem. 75% of the classrooms had carpeting, which is a prime allergen harbor.
In people with allergies, the immune system is overly sensitive to substances such as animal dander, molds, pollen, etc. With repeated exposure they build up a sensitivity to these allergens. This sensitivity then causes allergic reactions.
Seasonal allergies tend to be due to outdoor allergens that only occur at certain times of the year. These are the most common ones and the symptoms that occur in an allergic person as a result of exposure.
Perennial allergens are indoor allergens. The most common are dust mites, furry pets, cockroaches, and molds.
Allergic rhinitis can sometimes cause or be associated with these symptoms and/or conditions.
These are additional problems that can develop or be associated with allergic rhinitis.
Dust mites are one of the most common allergens throughout the world.  They grow best indoors in warm, humid environments.  Their growth is hindered in very dry climates.  Carpeting and upholstered furniture are the major sources in the classroom, but mattress and pillows are the major source in the home.
Cats and dogs are the most common cause of pet allergies.  In cats, the allergen is present in skin secretions and saliva, and isn’t part of the hair.  The substance dries on the hair from skin secretions or when the cat licks its hair.  In the case of the dog, the allergen is contained in skin scales and hair.  Pet allergens are very tiny particles and they float in the air for prolonged periods of time, and stick to whatever they contact.  In classrooms without pets, the clothing of children who have pets at home can be a major source of allergen, enough to cause symptoms in allergic children.
Pollens are usually encountered outdoors.  The types of pollen varies by the time of year.  Tree pollen is usually present in the early spring, grass pollen in the late spring and early summer, and weed pollens in late summer and early fall.  Children participating in PE or recess during high pollen days can have allergy problems.
Cockroaches are common causes of allergy in the inner city.  They tend to occur wherever crowded situations exist, particularly when food or garbage is left out.
Molds are generally outdoor allergens, and can cause problems outdoors in the Midwest and Southeast US during the summer when the weather is hot and humid.  They cause problems indoors in situations as noted on the slide.
Foods usually cause immediate reactions, but not usually chronic reactions (e.g. chronic allergic nasal symptoms).
Here is a list of common triggers that the child might be exposed to in the classroom. These are allergens and irritants.
Avoidance of allergens when possible is the most important aspect of allergy treatment.  Decreasing exposure to allergens results in improvement in symptoms and less need for medications.
Total avoidance of allergens is usually not possible, so medications are usually necessary.  Fortunately we have many safe and effective medications for allergies.
Allergy injections are usually reserved for those patients whose symptoms are not controlled by avoidance and medications.  Allergy injections can be very effective in certain patients with certain allergies, but should be prescribed and administered by physicians with training or experience in this kind of therapy.
For allergy shots to be effective, they have to be used in the proper dose, for the proper allergens, and only when the patients allergies fit the pattern of symptoms.  In other words, a patient should not be on allergy shots to grass, when their symptoms only occur in the winter.
Some of the symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis you may see in school children are irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating due to not sleeping well or over the counter (OTC) medications. OTC medications often have a sedating quality.