Behavior Issues and Allergy Meds

Updated on March 18, 2009
M.H. asks from York, PA
18 answers

Hello, I was wondering if anyone had any experience or insight on Allergy medicine and children's behavior. My son will be 8 in 3 weeks and has been on allergy meds for about 4 years now. He started out on Zyrtec and 2 years ago Singulair was added. He also needs a nebulizer, as needed, for a couple days in the Spring. He is borderline asthma. He has been on Allegra (taken off Zyrtec) for the past year and is still on the Singulair. I heard that there are reports of children having behavior issues when on certain allergy meds. I also heard of suicidal thoughts in children on Singulair. My son has MAJOR behavior and anger issues and disciplining him seems impossible these days. He even has some "suicidal talk" as well. I've talked to his doctor and he said that there is not enough to prove that there are suicidal thoughts in children on this medication and they feel comfortable enough still prescribing it. He is willing to discuss alternative meds though and we will be having an appointment for that soon. I don't want to just take him off it because his allergies/asthma is controlled.

I also wonder if he is better off seeing an Allergist because they, of course, specialize in this area. Also, maybe even getting him tested to see what exactly he is allergic to. I know though that getting in to see a specialist could take a couple months.

I also have not ruled out that part of it could be because he is a middle child. I've heard there are a lot of problems with that as well - "middle child syndrome". I am an only child and my husband is the oldest of 5 so we (I especially) can't relate.

I know I have brought up a lot, but I am a very open minded person and am willing to explore any and all avenues. My children are my life and I would do anything for them.

Thank your for taking time to read this and for your advice.

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So What Happened?

WOW! Thank you for all the great advice. I am open to any and all suggestions. My son does have an appointment with an allergist this week. I want to make sure he is being medicated properly. Although I have mixed feelings about what he is on, I also feel he needs to be on something to control his allergy/asthma. I also am monitoring his diet closer too, I never gave that a thought. Thank you so much! What a great resource Mamasource has been! I'm sure I'll be writing again soon for more advice. :)

More Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi M.! Yes, we have experienced the same thing you described while my oldest son, 11 yr old, was on Singulair. He is the oldest of 4 and is our most challenging. He is very dramatic but also a very happy go lucky kid. Very friendly and outgoing and loves everyone. He was on Singulair for several years just during the spring and fall but then he went on Singulair year round when he was 81/2 or 9. Slowly his behavior changed. He became very moody and would get deprsessed and would say he wished he wasn't here. My husband and I thought maybe he had Bipolar disorder. Finally, I heard about the effects of Singulair and took him off. Within a couple of months he was back to his normal happy go lucky self and bouncing off the walls! It has been a year since we took him off and he is doing wonderfully! His asthma was ok for 7 months until December when the cold weather hit and then he started wheezing. The allergist put him on Asthmanex. It is a steroid inhaler which I don't like but am hoping that he will be able to go off by April.

I read the book by Dr Bock, Healing the new Childhood Epidemics which suggested a few supplements to help reduce the inflamation associtated with asthma. I have also just started taking him to a NAET doctor who is treating him for his food allergies, which is working. This doctor was recommended by a friend whose son was treated and now her son is allergy free. It has been 3 years since he was treated. This week the doctor will start on the environmental allergies. I am so hoping this will help him with his allergies and asthma. I would love to have him completely drug free!

I hope that helped! It is so difficult to know the right thing to do. But if you have noticed the personality changes in your son I would definately suspect the Singulair! There is another lady I met through my son's football team last year who went through the same thing with her son and Singulair. She had just taken him off when I met her. Our stories were identical!

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

I agree with M. W. My child was 3 when he started with severe allergies. The family doctor put him in singulair and his behavior went NUTS. He did not sleep for 3 days straight, literally lay on the floor kicking and pounding, then would get up and run in circles, and if you got near him he would punch and kick. If you look at the side effects/adverse reactiions you will see insomnia, aggression are listed.

That's when I decided a family doctor or ped doesn't know enough about a specialty to prescribe allergy meds, so we went to an allergist. Then the rounds of allergy meds really began in earnest. And after a year, he was sicker. Needing a nebulizer, more respiratory stuff, sinus infections (which they prescribed antibiotics for constantly).

Then I decided to try more a holistic approach to our family's health care, because of a few horrid mistakes physician had made with family members. I felt mainstream medicine was failing us, and making us unwell.

With NAET and using the info in Dr. Bock's "Healing the New Childhood Epidemics", my child has not taken allergy med's in almsot 2 years - and has NO allergies. I'll never see an allergist again. They wanted to treat symptoms, not heal his immune system. He is still allergic to soy, but no med will help that - we are working on that in other ways. My child was soooo much better off the meds. It's crazy how many children take daily meds. When we were growing up, that wasn't the case. Of course, when we were growing up kids weren't sick and allergic to everything.

My understanding is that suicidal talk is often a side effect of children's long term meds. All medicines have side effects. They don't JUST fix the symptom you take them for. And they surely do not fix your immune issues that cause the allergy symptoms.

Frankly I am appalled and disgusted that you went to a doctor with a CHILD having suicidal talk and anger issues, and because the studies don't do enough to PROVE a connection, let's just let it go???? How many kids will it take? It's not HIS child, so is he willing to let YOUR'S be added to the tally? What exactly did he DO to address the anger and suicide talk? Blame your parenting? That's what most do. Offer to put him on psych meds? That would be using another med to treat the side effects of the current meds.

I plead with you to look into this further...don't be a statistic.




answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M.,
I think it would be a waste of time and money to see an allergist.I am speaking from experience.My daughter was diagnosed the same as your son.We had an allergy test done to find out she is allergic to dust,grass, pollen,evergreen trees,cats,mold,ragweed.
I was told that IF she had allergy shots 1x a week for 2 yrs.then 1x every 2 weeks for 2 yrs then 1x a month for a year she would PROBABLY never have the allergies again.well after following the allergists advice and many $$$$ and time later I come to find that wasn't true.ughhh she may never get rid of the allergies.this all started when she was 9.she is now 15 and her allergies and asthma(exercised induced)is well under contol with the singular and allegera.she goes off the singular during the winter months because of not much pollen associated allergies but until end of summer she will go back on it.we have never had any suicidal thoughts .she's an only child.My advice would be stick to what your peditrication is doing sounds like a good dr.
AS always listen to your heart and good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

I can tell you from personnel experience my youngest had problems with allergies and dark circle eyes and we took her to an Allergist and found out exactly what she was allergic to. Which was interesting like leaves, hay, cats, dander, dust things like that. So I would suggest the allergist it will put your mind at ease.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M., Yes, I have experienced behavior issues as a result of allergy meds. For a time my middle daughter took an over the counter allergy med (dr. recommended) and it did make her "difficult", moody, and angry. Things did improve when she no longer needed the meds. But I won't kid you either, she is the most "challenging" of my three girls. I guess you could say it's the middle child thing...she tends to be far more dramatic or angry or happy at any given time than our other two. She has always been the most difficult to discipline, and she is always trying to find something to excell at that neither one of her sisters has anything to do with. It's as if she is trying to find someway to stand different. She is also her own worst critic and demands a level of excellence from herself that is amazing. Honestly I don't know where she gets it from!!

I think you should take him to an allergist, you are correct in being suspect of any meds...I think all to often anymore Doctors are too willing to hand out meds. You should also consider his diet. There is far too much hidden sugar (just look at is better to eat an apple than drink any apple juice no matter how "pure" it is!) that can also effect a child's behavior. A friend of mine discovered that once she elimated all the processed sugar from her son's diet his behavior did a complete and total turn around! After a few months she found that he could handle a treat once in a while without effecting his behavior anymore. I hope I didn't give you too many things to think about, or consider. Your best bet is to deal with each area slowly and carefully to see what works best for your son. Don't give up!! Best wishes.



answers from Allentown on

DEFINITELY see an allergist about your son--8 is far too young to be expressing suicidal thoughts. It may be a reaction to your going back to work, but it may be the meds.

You might try a few things in the interim: Many allergies are exacerbated or made worse by other things. Tap water is a big culprit: get pure distilled water (not just spring water), this is just water with no minerals or heavy metals, and have him drink only this. My ex had terrible allergies until his mother remembered that as a baby he had been allergic to cow's milk and tap water, so we switched to distilled water (eventually bought a distiller) and it made a HUGE difference in his allergies. It's worth a try.

Best of luck.



answers from Reading on

I'm sorry to hear your doctor isn't taking your son's side effects seriously. Suicide isn't a laughing matter and now of days anything is possible. I would definately try to see a specialist on this, it will be worth the wait. As for your son's asthma, try getting your son to play an instrument. I had asthma as a child and after I started to play the trombone my asthma went away. Good Luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear M.,
I had a big problem with singular. I refuse to have my son use it. He also has asthma. When you say "borderline" asthma, I am not sure what you mean. My son has asthma, but it only acts up when he gets a cold. I usually just give him an albuterol nebulizer three times a day until the cough subsides. I used singular for about two weeks. In that two weeks my son could not sleep at all and was extremely angry. He was not the same little boy at all. I am not sure why your doctor says there is not enough proof. It has been proven in many studies singular has these side effects. In fact, I just recently read another study about it in my local paper. I am a respiratory therapist (ironicaly) and I assure you there are many alternatives. Please, please see an allergist in your area. Trust your mom instincts. If you feel something is not right, I would take him off of that medication ASAP!



answers from Scranton on

Hi M.,
I am a physician assistant and also an allergy/asthma sufferer myself. I just wanted to let you know about a blood test that is available for allergy testing. It is called Immunocap and it has a panel of allergens specific to where you live. It is ran from a single blood sample. Your family doctor/pediatrician can order this test. It can let you know what your son is allergic too and you may be able to make lifestyle changes to avoid some of the allergens. Going to an allergist is another option, but allergy testing is long and uncomfortable. They have to prick your back with a needle many times (20 or more) and then you have to lie there and wait to see what you react too. This is the way to go if you think you want to try allergy shots though and then you may be able to eliminate some other medications.

Another suggestion would be trying a nasal spray for his allergy symptoms, since they have very little systemic absorption. There are also inhaled medications for asthma symptoms that you may want to consider.

I have had both the blood test and traditional allergy testing done. I also received allergy shots for 3 years and my asthma and allergies were the best ever while I was doing that. I am currently 37 weeks with my second pregnancy and plan on going back to resume the shots when I am done. I tried singulair at one point and just didn't feel right on it (achey, etc).

I know that I wrote a lot and I"m sorry. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. Good LUck!


answers from Williamsport on

Never trust the doctor who discounts all risks! They all do it. It's not that he's lying or conspiring with the Man, it's what he's been taught my his industry and what he believes. They say all meds are safe before they yank them off the market for being unsafe. Definitely seek alternatives! I don't blame you for wanting the allergies in check, but as you already know, your son's mental health is first priority.

Also, as for middle child syndrome, I wouldn't worry. It implies something is wrong with the child when really, any ramifications from placement would be due to parental behavior based on the dynamic of 3 or more kids, or the child believing something is wrong with being in the middle. If he is getting all his love, health and discipline needs met, and being taught healthy unselfish values, having older and younger siblings won't hurt him!

Definitely seek all alternative treatments for his allergies asap-even if it means letting his allergies get worse for a bit. Also, step up his love and attention as well as discipline. Make sure dad takes lots of special time with him. He's approaching adolescence-don't DON'T mess around with any depression and rage risks due to medications!

This is going to sound totally cookoobird, but my husband is a touring singer, and recently was on tour with a band full of chain smokers and he got a bad sinus infection. His meds weren't helping and he couldn't sing. He got a "netty pot", available at large drug stores. Basically, it's a little pitcher that lets you pour warm salt water into one nostril and out the other while rinsing out your whole sinuses. Holistic people insist if you have allergies, and use it once a week you may not need meds. Anyway, he bought it in an emergency and it totally helped him! He was cleared up and able to sing. He needed to rinse once every couple of days. You might try this to tide you over until you find your son a good treatment! Good luck!



answers from York on

I'm not sure about the behavioral problems. My daughter and son have both been on allergy medications for a long time. Since about 6 months old! But of course all children respond differently.

I would definately go see an Allergy and Asthma specialist if your insurance covers it. We go to Allergy and Asthma in York on Whiteford Road. We really like them and we've had no problems.

Good luck!


answers from Pittsburgh on

I want to throttle your Doctor. It sounds like he is blatanly ignoring suicidal ideation which should be taken VERY seriously in children (they aren't exempt from suicide, and boys are often more "successful" at completing the act than girls).

I think you are on the right track. Drop everything and go see a specialist. You sound like you are a wonderful, caring Mom who invests a lot in her children. I'm so glad you asked this question. It raises awareness for us other Moms with similar issues.

Also,when you call a specialist, tell them on the phone what is going on. Let them know about the suicidal ideation, and that it is imperative that he be seen SOON (= squeeze him in immediately!!). If they are worth their salt they will get you in a.s.a.p. Even let them know that you are writing down when you called them and you are documenting that you informed them of his behavior( this is somewhat slippery but you want to get him in asap).

I don't think his behavior is realted to middle child syndrome. I have my B.A in Child Psych and I don't recall an increase in suicidality in response to child placement. I understand why you thought of it, but my opinion is that this should be taken extremely seriously. It is NOT normal behavior, and it needs to be looked at closely, to find out whether it has an organic or medicinal basis.

Good luck and God bless. Please keep us posted.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I can't comment on the Singular/behavioral issue, but I do recommend the allergist. Personally, I've had really bad allergies my entire life. I recent went to an allergist for the 1st time - I had never bothered, because I knew I didn't want allergy shots and I thought that's all they ever recommended. But I had allergy testing (the blood test), found out I'm allergic to some things that I didn't know of (and a bunch of things I would have predicted) and she gave really specific information on how to limit my exposure to those allergens. If you want to limit meds, I'd make the appointment and have a lot of questions ready for the allergist on how to control symptoms by controlling exposure.



answers from Pittsburgh on

My daughter has asthma and allergies. We do see an allergy specialist who is amazing. I highly recommend it. But you are correct about the singulair. The doctor told me this when they prescribed it to my daughter. He said if I see any changes in her behavior that I should immediately contact him. I would go to a specialist. They will test him and maybe even give you alternatives. There is no reason why he should have to stay on these meds if they are causing him problems. God bless you and your family.



answers from Philadelphia on

I guess my first question would be how bad are the allergies? If he's been medicated for 4 years, I guess they're pretty bad. I'd likely wean him off the meds and see how he does. But, to answer one of your questions, yes, definitely, see an allergy specialist. Make the appt. today, and those few months of waiting for it will fly by, as we all know.
On your other question, I am a middle child, and so is my husband. Neither of us are suicidal as a result. :) If you mean maybe he's just being dramatic for attention, then I guess you could blame it on middle child syndrome. Suicidal mentions should always be taken seriously, though. If you aren't sure he's just being dramatic, call a psych for an emergency appointment and get some advice.
Good luck!



answers from Reading on

I really don't have specific information for you BUT I see red flags flying all over the place. First off I can't imagine a pediatrician dismissing suicidal thoughts in a 9 year old especially one that is medicated with known medications that cause this in children! I'd be looking for a new pediatrician! I have experienced this with my 8 year old who was immediately put into therepy and it was never dismissed. Everyone took it seriously, from a 16 year old brother, the dr, school, teacher everyone! You need to too.

As far as seeing an allergist, good idea. The mising of tese drugs is outrageous. Find out what the problem is and then there is a solution, perhaps a natural one. NOt jsut stabbing in the dark hoping to hit it with this drug or that. I can tell you that allergies are a supressed immune system. The easiest thing to assist this is to give your child chewable vitamin C (500 mg) throughout th day. No more then 500 every 2 hours. This will help but I'm sure is not the only solution just a band aid. For allergies too, you could wrap your childs bedding, there are 3 levels of quality, On the box spring use the least expensive, the matress use the middle of the road and the pillow top of the line. Remove all stuffed animals, throw pillows, throw blankets, etc. Wash the bedding in hot water every week. Keep any animals out of the room and off limits. Look for any environmental factors in the room that might contribute and remove them. Laundry soap unscented everything and no softners, or dryer sheets. Look for reactions to foods too, that mightbe the culprit.

As far as the middle child thing, this is not normal behaviour for a middle chid. In my fmaily the middle child was the quiet one. Never loud or obnoxious, never the trouble maker. In my family I have 6 children the middle children seem to follow suit with no trouble at all. They are the easiest children of all. I think this is not a factor at all.

These are jsut a few broad coverage things to observe but never dismiss suicidal thoughts or behaviors in any child. It's then too late, if you dismiss it what do you have to lose by looking into it?

Have a wonderful week.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M.,
Your right. If you take your child to an allergist, they can pinpoint what they are actually allergic to. This could help in a major way. This will help you to relieve his symptoms some or maybe altogether. Maybe he won't have to take as much medicine or maybe he needs a different type. I know they also have shots, if he can deal with that, and I'm not sure if they can be given to children or not.
I personally speak from experience. I was having episodes of chronic sinus infections which also messed up my equalibrium. My face hurt so bad, I honestly thought at one point that if I slammed my face into a brick wall it would feel better. Plus I was so sick of being dizzy. Allergies can react in many ways.
After visiting an ear, nose and throat specialist, I was able to pinpoint what bothered me the most and I have learned to avoid contact with those things or have as little contact as I can with those things. I also learned that at different times of the year there are certain foods that cause my allergies to worsen. I'm not actually allergic to the foods, but they cause my allegies to worsen when I am in contact with the allergens and these specific foods together. This is information I received directly from my specialist.
I also learned how to change my environment at home to help comfort myself. Changes in bedding, changes in cleaners.....etc.
It is quite surprising what you can find out by going to the right doctor. I highly recommend seeing a specialist. I will tell you, I'm not cured....I never will be, but with the information I received, it really does help.
I'm sorry I'm long winded, but I hope my information may help you and your son.


answers from Norfolk on

HI M.,

Get you an appointment book from your local beauty supply place with 5 columns. At the top of each column put each name of the family member.

Put in activities for each member on a daily basis, inlcude yourself as well.

Bow out gracefully from everything that does not include your family.

Parenting classes are in order.
Good luck. Hope this helps. D.

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