I took my younger son J to an appointment with an allergist today. Waaaay back when he was two or three he was given cough medicine/decongestant and ended up in the hospital because he couldn't breathe. Seeing as how breathing is important, I decided not to give him any more cold medicine since then. He had a cold recently and was asking me what he can do to get rid of the stuffy nose and I realized that he is at the age now (12) where he might try to take some medicine himself. So now it's time to see what he's allergic to and how to avoid it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, they can't test for individual ingredients if it's an oral allergy. I found out today that if I knew the brand of medicine he was given then they could narrow it down. Yeah...the last incident was a decade ago. I seem to recall it was purple, liquid and kid's strength, nothing else. So no luck there.
They did do a scratch test on his forearms for five groups: animals, weeds, trees, grasses, mold, and a histamine to see if the test was functioning (it was). It turns out he is not allergic to animals at all or grasses (except Western Tree Mix). He had a reaction to grain mill dust and penicillium (a type of mold, no idea which one though). Half of the trees came out clear, but he had a reaction to Poplar, Pine (my neighborhood is littered with Pines), Willow (yep, we have them as well) and Maple. Do you know which tree has 'helicopter seeds'? Maple. Do you know where the closest Maple is to my house? One yard over. And he had a reaction to every weed they had with large reactions to dandelion and sagebrush. Well. I guess I'll need to go on an annihilation mission of weeds every Spring.
The allergist also requested a lung function test and a chest x-ray. When he'd asked me if J had any problems in the past with his lungs I mentioned that I was told he had fluid in the lower right lung for a while. I remember the doctor listening to his chest when he was a newborn and again at 3,6,9,12 and 24 months and pointing out the bit of fluid. It was getting so that I could predict that the doctor would hear something before she even raised the stethescope. I asked if I should be concerned and she had said no. He was thriving very well, and those who know J can see that he developed just fine. The allergist, however, had to pick up his eyeballs off the floor when they popped out of his head at the idea that it wouldn't have been looked into at the time. So J gets more tests and then is back to see the allergist in June.
I did ask if J is allergic to the cough medicine or if there's any way to find out. He asked a whole bunch of questions and it turns out that no, it's not exactly an allergy. J must have had a cold that turned to croup as a toddler. I gave him medicine, which made his membranes thicker and his airway narrow. Because his membranes were now too thick, his body couldn't cough up the phlegm that was building up, and he couldn't breathe. The allergist was able to describe J's cough to me without me having to do so first. Amazing. You'd think he'd heard of this before me :)
Anyway, he doesn't recommend decongestant to any children, especially toddlers/babies. Their bodies need to clear out the goop on their own, with a doctor's help if necessary. The medicine doesn't cure a cold, just make you more comfortable, but the side effects can be pretty severe. He did give J a corticosteriod nasal spray (is it gross to call it J's 'snot rocket'?) to help clean out his sinuses so he doesn't feel as stuffy, as well as some info on natural sinus relief so he can manage without pesky decongestant ingredients.