Colleen Konkus has a lot to manage when it comes to her son Andrew. He suffers from severe allergies.

“Andrew’s had this since he’s been six months old. He started breathing treatments due to allergies, basically when he was six months old and they became more severe.”

According to the CDC, 7 million children were reported as having environmental allergies in the last twelve months, 3.5 million reported a food allergy, In a young child they can have serious health consequences.

“Anaphylaxis being the worst case scenario of an allergy where the blood pressure drops and the heart rate either raises or drops,” says Dr. Nancy Witham, a pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

While parents may be used to monitoring their child’s everyday activities, the holidays are another story. They may not be aware of the allergies hidden in the holiday cheer.

“Some of the more common allergies are going to be tree nuts and peanuts,” says Dr. Witham.

And nuts are a common staple this time of year. Homemade Christmas cookies and snacks are often times hiding them. Their oils are frequently used in scented candles and crushed nutshells are also found in some synthetic logs used in fireplaces. This means parents should add allergy supplies to their list this holiday season. Your pediatrician can help you assemble an emergency action kit.

“With prescribed medication for immediate allergies such as the injectible shot of adrenaline or epinephrine,” says Dr. Witham.

Good preparation doesn’t take a break for the holidays.

“He has a preventative inhaler that he takes twice a day, as well as two different types of medication. So this is what we have to carry with us at all times,” says Colleen.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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