Tips for helping your children this allergy season, an iPhone app that educates about Lyme disease, how to choose an athletic shoe, and more.

Spring allergy season is in full bloom across the country, and some say it's the worst in years. For the 40 percent of American children with allergies, both outdoor and indoor triggers can spark an allergy attack during this time of year.

The culprits include indoor allergens like dust in classrooms and mold in the locker room, as well as outdoor allergens like grass and tree pollen covering athletic fields and playgrounds, which can collect on clothing and hair.

"Record high pollen counts in some areas are taking a toll on children who suffer from allergies. If your kid suffers from allergies at school or play, a proper allergy treatment regimen can help," says pediatric allergist Dr. Pamela Georgeson.

Experts offer the following allergy tips for preventing allergy flare-ups this season:

- Allergy education goes right alongside treatment of those pesky symptoms. Kids are inquisitive by nature, and it's important to explain what allergies are, how you get them and what you can do to help manage them.

- Identify the specific allergens that trigger your child's symptoms so he or she will be able to help limit contact with them.

- Tell your child's teachers, school nurse, coaches and caretakers about his or her allergies, triggers and medications.

- Remind your child to wash his or her hands frequently to avoid spreading allergy-causing substances such as dust, pollen and pet dander.

- Help manage your child's home environment by taking steps such as keeping windows closed, cleaning air filters regularly, washing bedding often and using a dehumidifier.

- Have your child shower and change clothes after playing outdoors since allergens can collect on hair, skin and clothes.

- Speak to your doctor about over-the-counter or prescription medicines they recommend. There are now non-drowsy antihistamines available that will last throughout the day.

-- ARA

In the news: iPhone now has Lyme disease ‘app’

Faculty and students at the Yale School of Public Health have developed an iPhone application that allows users to better protect themselves against Lyme disease, the most prevalent insect-borne disease in the United States.

It includes information on the abundance of infected ticks at the location of the user (within the United States) as determined by GPS. If ticks are determined to be present, the user is given a list of precautions to avoid tick-bites.

A tick identification chart is also provided, with life-size photos of black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) so that each life stage can be determined, since some stages cannot transmit Lyme disease. If the user has been bitten, instructions on how to properly remove a tick are provided along with a narrated video.

-- Yale School of Public Health

Did You Know?

The WHO has launched an online guide to snake bites and anti-venoms at www.who.int/bloodproducts/snake_antivenoms/en/index.html.

Health Tip: Find the right athletic shoe

Follow these fitting facts when purchasing a new pair of athletic shoes.

- Try on athletic shoes after a workout or run and at the end of the day. Your feet will be at their largest.

- Wear the same type of sock that you will wear for that sport.

- When the shoe is on your foot, you should be able to freely wiggle all of your toes.

- Walk or run a few steps in your shoes. They should be comfortable.

- There should be a firm grip of the shoe to your heel. Your heel should not slip as you walk or run.

- If you participate in a sport three or more times a week, you need a sports-specific shoe.

-- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Number to Know: 40 percent

During the 2009-10 flu season, 40 percent of eligible Americans were vaccinated against seasonal flu. This is an increase from 33 percent in the previous flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children’s Health: Help a teething baby

A baby’s first tooth usually appears between the ages of 5 months and 7 months.

Each baby may experience symptoms differently, but the most common signals that a tooth is on its way are: Drooling more than usual, constantly putting fingers or fists in the mouth, biting, swollen or puffy area on gum, fussiness or crankiness, and low fever.

If your baby is cranky while teething, try giving the child hard rubber toys, teething rings or cold teething toys to chew on. You can also rub your baby’s gum with your finger or let him or her chew on a clean, wet washcloth.

Teething gels may not be helpful as they are quickly washed off if excessive drooling is present.

-- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Senior Health: Dietary protein may reduce hip fractures

Seniors who consume a higher level of dietary protein are less likely to suffer hip fractures, according to a new study.

The study, which examined the daily protein intake of 946 seniors, found that individuals who were in the lowest 25 percent of dietary protein intake had approximately 50 percent more hip fractures than those who consumed greater amounts of dietary protein (all within normal intakes).

Researchers say that in addition to boosting bones, dietary protein may protect elderly people against hip fracture by building stronger muscles in the legs.

-- Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research

GateHouse News Service