CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – Students today can often face rigors of a school schedule that can challenge their concentration, energy level and activity in and out of the classroom.
But for the millions of school-age children who suffer from fall nasal allergies, the “cure” for their symptoms may affect their school performance in a way not all that different than if they left their sneezing, sniffling and allergic stuffy nose go untreated.
According to results of a new survey conducted among members of the National Association of School Nurses, 75 percent of school nurses polled agree that the physical side effects of the medications used to treat nasal allergy symptoms interfered with school performance, with 67 percent saying a child’s alertness and ability to concentrate are impacted.
Get drowsy. In addition, 68 percent say they think drowsiness has the greatest impact on children’s participation both in and out of the classroom.
Conversely, 88 percent of the school nurses surveyed agreed that left untreated, these same nasal allergy symptoms often interfere with school performance, with 62 percent saying that these students participate less in the classroom.
“This time of year school nurses see many students suffering from nasal allergy symptoms,” said Linda Wolfe, president of the association.
“It concerns all of us – parents, teachers and school nurses – when the allergy medications used to stop the sneezing, sniffling, and congestion makes children drowsy or affects their ability to concentrate.”
Experts estimate that more than six million children have nasal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, and that it is the cause of more than 800,000 missed school days per year.
Energy level. When asked about the impact of nasal allergy medications on specific activities at school, 67 percent said a child’s energy level during the school day is impacted with 48 percent reporting allergy medications having an impact on a child’s ability to participate in after school sports.
Other survey results showed that 85 percent of nurses think parents do not have enough information about nasal allergies and the medications used to treat them.
“The fact is many of the over-the-counter allergy medications are very effective. However, parents need to consider not only their benefits, but also the risks, and side effects,” said Dr. David P. Skoner, chief of allergy and immunology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.