We finally found some answers as to why Levi has been sick so much during his first year and a half of life. After taking foods out of his diet, getting tubes in his ears, keeping him away from public places and seeing a ton of specialists we still had no answers until a couple of weeks ago when we visited an immunologist for the first time.
Dr. Bauer, who is also an allergist as well an immunologist, did some allergy tests and we learned that Levi is very allergic to cats, dogs, dust and cockroaches. Surprisingly, he doesn't have any food allergies to date.
And interestingly enough, our house that we moved into just before he was born used to have cats in it. We also have a golden-doodle, and with our house being so large I can' say I'm always up-to-date on keeping the dust-mites at bay. I'm not really sure how the cockroaches come into play considering we are very cleanly and have never seen one here, but I guess they must be outside in the grass. So, it turns out that the reason why he kept getting infection after infection was because there was always mucus in his sinuses as a result of the allergies. His little immune system was also taxed by constantly producing anti-histamines. Poor guy!
Our doctor advised us to make some big changes inside our home, and they have helped tremendously. Levi isn't scratching his nose all of the time and finally doesn't sound stuffy. He also hasn't been sick in three weeks, which is huge for us. So, here's what we think is helping:
1. Air Purifier with a Hepa Filter - We were told to put a air purifier in his room that has a hepa filter, and to keep it running all of the time. This will filter out the dust in the air that he's allergic to. She also recommended that we keep the door closed at all times to prevent additional dust from getting into his room. So far we like the GermGuardian a lot. It has a blue nightlight too that you can use.
2. Vacuum with a Hepa Filter & vacuum weekly - We had been using a 10 year old vacuum, and we were only vacuuming about once a month upstairs. We're very tidy people, and I never saw any dust anywhere. I had no idea how much dust could collect in our low grade carpet until we bought a new vacuum. We purchased the Shark Navigator after reading a ton of reviews, and the amount of dust you pick up every time you run it is insane. I guess that's what you get for living in Arizona.
3. Daily Children's Zyrtec - Though I don't love having to give Levi meds every day Zyrtec has helped tremendously. Long-term studies have also been done and show no side-effects to using it. Plus, there are no proven natural remedies for animal allergies at this time. Eventually, when he is 4 years old he can start to get allergy shots, but for now he doesn't mind taking a 1/4 tsp daily.
4. Daily nasal spray - Nasacort is a non-steroid nasal spray that just helps to keep the mucus away, and combined with the Zyrtec his nose is staying clear.
5. No dairy - Dairy gives him bad eczema and also causes mucus to form.
6. No stuffed animals in his room - They are huge dust collectors, so we have banned them from his room.
7. Change his clothes before nap time and bedtime - Germs and allergens can cling to fabric. To be extra cautious we change his clothes before nap and bedtime.
8. Daily baths - We were only bathing Levi every other day because of his eczema, but the doctor recommended daily baths with warm water to wash away the dust and germs. We only use soap on the dirty areas and we don't wash his hair every time. We have been applying Vanicream twice daily and it seems to keep the eczema under control.
9. Got rid of our dog - Wendy has been a part of our family for seven years. I can't tell you how heartbreaking it has been to live life without her. We are doing a two month trial with our in-laws, and then we are going to try to bring her back after Levi has shown improvement over the long-haul. I'm hoping it's not forever, but I'll keep you posted.
10. Eliminated some rugs - We removed the rug the kids play on every day. We have a ton of area rugs in our house, which can be huge dust collectors. If needed, we will start eliminating more, but hopefully, we don't have to have bare floors throughout the whole house to keep his allergies under control.
So far so good. He hasn't been sick in three weeks and he is the happiest I have ever seen him. His nose is clear and he isn't scratching his face constantly. I can't tell you what a relief this has been to me. It makes me teary-eyed thinking about it. If you have children with constant ear, sinus and throat infection I highly encourage you to seek an immunologist in your area.