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  • Writer's pictureDr. Julie Sweeney

The Allergist Visit: How to Calm Your Child’s Worries


Pediatrician Dr. Julie Sweeney (@allergymom.md on IG) reflects on a recent visit with her son's allergist and advance steps she took to prepare her son. Sometimes, with To Do lists that never get any shorter, you might overlook this important step in the flurry of your days. But promise you, it will be time well spent. Not only will it de-mystify the visit for your child, but it gives you insight into your child's worries and lays the groundwork for your child to actively and confidently 'partner' with his/her allergist. Read on...


Mom and son talk about an upcoming allergist appointment. Image by Alina Matveycheva on Pexels.

We recently had an allergy appointment that we'd been waiting on for months. It was for my eight-year-old. He had an allergic reaction and we were not exactly sure what triggered it — a mystery for us to solve.

Thinking about that appointment, I just want to share some thoughts on prepping for an allergy appointment.

Beyond booking it and collecting your thoughts on your child’s reaction details, you’ll want to prepare your child for what to expect. I suggest talking about the appointment early, maybe a few days before, maybe a week before, depending on your child. Talking about it can calm any worries your child may have.


(1) Anticipate & Answer Your Child's Questions.

Anticipate questions your child may have and talk about them before the appointment. My son had a gazillion questions. He wanted to know when we were going, where we were going, and who the doctor was. He wanted to know if it was going to hurt. So many questions to answer!


(2) Explain The Visit In A Relatable (non-scary) Way.

I found that framing the appointment as ‘detective work’ was helpful for my son because he gets really into mystery books. “You’re a detective…the doctor's a detective…and we're looking for clues to figure out what could have caused that surprise reaction.” Details about reactions, skin tests and blood tests are all clues that will help us solve this mystery. 🕵️‍♀️


(3) Prepare Questions — yours and your child's — For The Allergist Together

You’ll want to prepare your list of questions for the doctor. And your child might have a list of questions, too. It’s important to give them a chance to speak up during the appointment to ask their questions because, beyond getting answers to them and making sure they are heard, you’re sowing important seeds of self-advocacy for the future.


(4) Gently, Carefully Set The Stage For Possible Pokes

I suggest NOT promising there won’t be any pokes. Why? Because many times, once the reaction history’s been taken, the doctor may actually want to go ahead and do some in office skin prick testing, and possibly draw some blood. It’s better to prepare your child for the possibility of a few pokes — “to gather important clues” — versus promising a poke-free visit and being wrong.


(5) Bring Activities To Keep Your Child Busy During Waits

You might want to tuck some fun ‘distractions’ in your bag in the event your doctor wants to do skin testing. Distractions will take your child’s mind off the itching and will make time pass more quickly.


Whether you’re thinking of booking an allergist appointment, or waiting on a future one, I’m hoping your allergist will help you unravel your allergy mysteries.


(And I hope you get your appointment faster than we got ours!)




 
dr-julie-sweeney-headshot

About the Author: Dr. Julie is board certified by The American Board of Pediatrics and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics with an extensive background in pediatric food allergy care. She has completed specialized training in nutrition and food allergy through FARE and the Academy of Pediatric Integrative Medicine. She’s also an expert allergy mom who has navigated allergies with 3 kids for almost 15 years. In her practice, she helps families better understand their child’s diagnosis, while adding an integrative medicine approach to their child’s care — from nutrition, to emotions, to lifestyle — empowering the entire family to thrive. Follow her on Instagram (@allergymom.md)



Image: Alina Matveycheva on Pexels

1 Comment


Guest
Mar 26

Oh bravo for #3 and #2 especially!!

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