Untreated Allergies in Kids

Kirk Waibel, MD

Kirk Waibel, MD

What you'll learn in this podcast

When allergies are left untreated, the result comes in the form of sinus infections, ear infections, and sometimes chest infections. This not only impacts kids' school and work attendance, but also performance. Dr. Kirk Waibel discusses the various health impacts untreated allergies have, as well as how they can lead to both unproductive behavior in the classroom and unforeseen costs.

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Transcript of this podcast:

Bill Klaproth (Host): Untreated allergies can result in not only chronic health issues effecting performance at work and school but can impact the family financially as well. So let’s talk about secondary infections that occur especially in kids as a result of untreated allergies and what you can do about it. Here to talk with us is Dr. Kirk Waibel of Aspire Allergy and Sinus. This is Achoo, the podcast for people with allergy and sinus issues from Aspire Allergy and Sinus. I'm Bill Klaproth. Dr. Waibel, let’s start here and discuss the health angle of this first. So what can happen when allergies go untreated?

Kirk Waibel MD (Guest): Thank you for having me and thank you for that question. You know the problem with allergies is about 10% of the population in the U.S. has allergic rhinitis, and when it’s left unchecked it can lead to a lot of health sequela. Problems with ear infections, sinus infections, sometimes even chest infections.

Host:   So left untreated can really lead to a more serious illness.

Dr. Waibel:   It really can. Allergies effecting all ages, particularly children, especially when unknown by either the child or the parents just puts them at risk to getting in these situations where they may have an infection and perhaps not truly recognized.

Host:   Right. Not to mention more of a serious infection, but these types of untreated allergies then can lead to a host of problems such as performance at work or school as well. Is that right?

Dr. Waibel:   They can. You know in the United States, actually one of the number one reasons to see the doctor are for things like what we call rhinitis or sinusitis which is when your nose or the sinuses near your nose get inflamed or infected. Kids are getting put on antibiotics. The parents are missing work taking the kids to the appointments and then the kids are missing school. So it can lead to a lot of problems.

Host:   Right. You just mentioned antibiotics. A lot of kids then unnecessarily are on this almost continual dose of antibiotics due to untreated allergies.

Dr. Waibel:   They can. You know the first thing for a child or their parent to do is really talk to their primary care provider. Sometimes this could just be a viral illness, which is, of course, not uncommon in kids. Sometimes it can just be plain allergies, which may not need an antibiotic.

Host:   Right. So that’s just something else to consider with untreated allergies. So we talked about the health angle of this and how untreated allergies can lead to sinus infections, ear infections, even sometimes chest infections. And how these types of untreated allergies lead to a host of problems at work or school as far as performance goes, not to mention the amount of antibiotics we are talking about someone may have to go on due to untreated allergies. So let’s talk about the financial impact of untreated allergies, such as the constant need for over the counter medications, the cost of antibiotics, and money lost from taking off at work or missed school. Is that right?

Dr. Waibel:   That’s correct. Anytime you have to see a healthcare provider, it takes time out of your day. You're having to drive. Of course, as you mentioned, you're missing work, the kids are missing school, and also the cost of those medicines. Some are inexpensive, but others can be more expensive. You may be taking those for a longer period of time than you would like to.

Host:   Right. It certainly all adds up. So let’s try to offer some solutions. Dr. Waibel, how does a parent know whether it’s an allergy or a cold?

Dr. Waibel:   Yes. That’s a great. We truly take those differently when we try to approach them from a healthcare treatment standpoint. Perhaps come of the key features is allergies are often going to last through a season. So like spring or summer or winter. They can be year round. Versus a cold might last for a couple days to a week. The other aspect is plain allergies, as I like to say, shouldn’t cause stuff coming out of your nose to be discolored. So if you’re blowing snot and it’s yellow or green, that’s something beyond allergies. It may be an infection. The last part is with a viral illness or a sinus infection, you often have a fever. With plain allergies, you should not have a fever to go along with it.

Host:   Okay. So that’s really simple advice to remember. So let’s see if I have this correct. So allergies are seasonal, colds are more kind of like on a week to week basis. If you're blowing out yellow or green, chances are you have an infection. Is that correct?

Dr. Waibel:   That’s correct. We do see while most allergies can be seasonal, there are also year round allergies such as pet dander, dust mite, molds. All those can cause classic allergy symptoms but go on every month for a person.

Host:   So if this does keep happening and happening, it sounds like it’s a good idea to try to understand if this is an allergy or not and get an allergy test because that will only help you with treatment. Is that right?

Dr. Waibel:   Yeah, absolutely. If someone’s coming in or asking that question is it allergies, the first place we start is just what have they tried and how is it affecting them. It really, I think, is one wants to know why am I giving my child all this medicine? There are some simple ways, particularly by seeing an allergist, that we can figure out is this allergies or is it something else going on?

Host:   So then it seems to make sense that understanding that your child or you yourself has an allergy certainly can lead to better treatment and health outcomes, and certainly try to minimize any of those other health issues we were talking about—sinus infections, ear infections—and also can save you money down the road.

Dr. Waibel:   Yeah, absolutely. I mean once you know what you're dealing with, we can really attack the root cause. There's some definite strategies that we can help enable those parents for their children to treat those allergies.

Host:   Alright Dr. Waibel, as we wrap this up. So what's your best advice for someone who has some of these health issues and may suspect it’s allergies?

Dr. Waibel:   Yeah. I think what I would advise parents to do is be honest with themselves and how their children are doing, and then have that conversation with the pediatrician or their family practice doctor. It’s amazing to me so many times that parents don’t realize there are board certified allergists that are in a perfect position to help with the evaluation. Or perhaps their provider’s reluctant to pursue allergy testing. That’s so important to do that testing to figure out what you're dealing with.

Host:   Yeah. That’s makes a lot of sense. So if a parent is listening to this and has these very same questions, it sounds like they should give you a call Dr. Waibel and start that process of really understanding what's going on with their child or themselves.

Dr. Waibel:   Yes. I mean, again, as an allergist particularly I always recommend seeing a board certified allergist, which I am one of, that they're gonna—That individual is gonna be in a great position and have that background to fully evaluate the child and hopefully have that conversation with the parent and make it a group decision, a shared decision, about how should we proceed next.

Host:   Yeah. Really good information. Dr. Waibel, thanks for your time today. This has been very informative.

Dr. Waibel: Yeah, I really appreciate it. Thank you again.  

Host:   That’s Dr. Kirk Waibel of Aspire Allergy and Sinus. To learn more or to book a visit, please visit aspireallergy.com. That’s aspireallergy.com. If you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and check out the full podcast library for topics of interest to you. This is Achoo, the podcast for people with allergies and sinus from Aspire Allergy and Sinus. I'm Bill Klaproth. Thanks for listening.

About this provider

Dr. Kirk Waibel is Board Certified in Allergy & Immunology and joins the Aspire Allergy & Sinus team after serving 22 years in the United States Army, most recently as the Chief of the Allergy Service at Brooke Army Medical Center and the Allergy Consultant to the Army Surgeon General. He is also the only allergist who is trained and administering the ExACT Immunoplasty℠ procedure, and one of the few offering OIT in San Antonio. 

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