printer-friendly version   Printer-Friendly Version  

ADHD Symptoms Affected by Seasonal Allergies

Ever wonder why your child's ADHD symptoms seem worse during certain periods of the year? Doctors from the Long Island College Hospital recently discovered that seasonal allergies can aggravate the symptoms of ADHD.  It's long been established that children with ADHD are more likely to suffer from allergies than children without, and these findings provide growing support for a rigorous evaluation period and drug-free, natural ADHD management.

The study, presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, involved 20 teenagers diagnosed with ADHD.  All participants had a family history of chronic allergies, but only two had been previously tested for allergy symptoms.  At the start of the study, the participants were screened for allergic rhinitis and given a blood test to check for allergies to dogs, cats, feathers, trees, grass, mold, and cockroaches. These tests revealed that eight of the teenagers had atopic dermatitis and asthma, three had allergic rhinitis, and nine scored positive on allergy tests at least once.  Fifteen were also found to have at least two symptoms of allergies.

These discoveries led the researchers to conclude that children and teens with ADHD may have undiagnosed allergies, and that some of their symptoms might be aggravated by the allergies themselves as well as the sleep problems they cause (e.g., nasal obstruction at night).  The researchers also made strong recommendations that children with ADHD be tested for allergies to help them overcome their symptoms.  

So what do you do when you find that your child's ADHD is triggered by environmental allergens?  First, find out exactly what your child is allergic to. Traditional allergy tests can tell if mold, dust, pollen, or animal fur is responsible for your child's symptoms. However, it is also possible for your child to be allergic to food; for this you will need specialized tests like manual muscle tests. Allergic reactions to food can be avoided by putting your child on an ADHD diet.

Here are a few tips that will keep allergic reactions at bay, without using medication:

  • Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This will prevent the dust from flying into the air.
  • Give your child a dust mask before going out during springtime and fall. It might look silly, but a dust mask can effectively keep out pollen, dust, and airborne mold spores.  A study from the Woodcock Institute of Medical Research gave 70 adults with fall allergies either a mock filter or a pollen filter. The subjects spent two hours in a park known for high concentrations of airborne pollens. The paper filters were able to prevent or reduce allergic reactions like sniffles, sneezing, watery eyes, itchiness, and itchy throats.
  • Use a dehumidifier to control the development of molds inside the house, specifically in basements and attics.
  • Try pycnogenol supplements. Pycnogenol, the extract of the French maritime pine tree, has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe allergic symptoms and help kids with ADHD.  A randomized, placebo-controlled study from the Masah University of Medical Science looked at 26 asthma patients and discovered that those who took pycnogenol supplements had lower levels of inflammatory agents linked to asthma attacks.
  • Try butterbur. According to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study from Ninewells Hospital, this herb can block the biochemicals that provoke allergic responses to grass pollen.