DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What can I do for my 12-year-old boy to make spring less a hell for him? Every year he sneezes constantly, rubs his eyes and nose and is miserable. I guess it’s hay fever. Will he outgrow it? – L.L.

ANSWER:
I guess it’s hay fever, too.

Hay fever symptoms are well-known. The nose drips. People sneeze. The nose, eyes and ears itch. Children rub their nose constantly to stop the itch. They push the tip of the nose upward with their hands in a stereotypic way that is known as the allergic salute.

In spring, pollens from trees, grasses and weeds fill the air. When those pollens land in the noses of people sensitive to them, cells release a barrage of chemicals, including histamine, that trigger all the allergic symptoms.

You can give your boy antihistamines to stem the severity of his reaction to pollens. Many antihistamines are sedating, so they might make the child drowsy. You’ll have to find one that is less sleep-inducing. Begin on a weekend so he’s not falling asleep at school. Newer antihistamines are less sedating.

A nasal spray that contains cortisone is quite effective in curtailing many allergic symptoms. It requires a prescription. Only a small fraction of the cortisone is absorbed into the blood, so the spray doesn’t lead to serious cortisone side effects.

How much does hay fever make your son’s life miserable? If it’s a great deal, it’s worth your while to consult an allergist. The doctor can determine the boy’s exact allergies and have a serum prepared to make him less sensitive to the pollens that cause his troubles. The shots work quite well for most.

Youngsters can get over their allergies. Adults are usually stuck with them for life.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a cashier and on my feet most of the day. I have developed pain in the front part of my left foot, and the pain spreads upward into the toes – the third and fourth toes. If I don’t find an answer to the pain, I will have to give up this job. What do you think it might be? – S.A.

ANSWER:
I believe it’s a Morton’s neuroma. One of the foot’s nerves has become entrapped in a ball of scar tissue. That’s the neuroma. Pressure on the nerve causes the kind of pain you’re experiencing. Quite often the scar tissue forms beneath the third and fourth toes and radiates upward into those toes.

You have to take pressure off the neuroma. You will find many foot cushions in drugstores that pad the soles (that’s where the neuroma is) and ease pressure on it. Make sure your shoes are large enough to accommodate the cushion.

Don’t wear high-heel shoes. They put great pressure on the front of the foot.

Your doctor can inject the painful area with a mixture of cortisone for inflammation and lidocaine for numbing the nerve.

Surgical removal of the neuroma is the last step.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 17-year-old girl who just had a birthday. My right breast is larger than my left. What can be done about this? It makes me very self-conscious. – C.N.

ANSWER:
During puberty, breast-size inequality is actually normal. By age 18 or 19, both breasts should be approximately the same size. If they are not nearly equal by then, they are unlikely to ever be so. At that point, you can consult a plastic surgeon to see if surgical correction is the route to take.

READERS: Chronic fatigue syndrome is something that readers are constantly asking about. The booklet on this condition explains its symptoms and what can be done for them. Readers can obtain a copy of the booklet by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 304, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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