Seasonal Allergies In Children: Symptoms And Treatment
Seasonal allergy symptoms can develop in anyone, even children, and seem to be becoming more common as global warming increases and winters and springs change. This creates a change in our pollen and mold counts. Just like in adult, many kids have true seasonal allergy symptoms while others have symptoms that last all year. Some kids have just hay fever while others have allergies combined with other allergic conditions such as eczema or asthma.This blog focuses on seasonal allergy treatment for children over 2 years of age. If your child is over 2 years of age with allergy-like symptoms, consult your pediatrician before starting any medication.
Preventing seasonal allergy symptoms
Our bodies develop the symptoms of seasonal allergies when our immune systems reach to the mold or pollen in the environment we are allergic to. The simplest way to prevent those symptoms from developing when we live in an area where those allergens exist is to take a preventative medication daily during the allergy season. Antihistamines are the medications that do just that. The issue is most people, adults and kids, find it trying to take a medication daily for so long. As a result, they either fail to take the antihistamine long enough through the allergy season, start too late, or don’t take it daily. In all of these situations, symptoms will creep back in.
In some allergy seasons, such as the one we are in now, antihistamines alone may be insufficient because the amount of allergen in the environment is too high to be controlled by that one medication. When this occurs, your child’s pediatrician can step up treatment with other medications tailored to child’s symptoms. Some of the medications may be over the counter while others are prescription but all are aimed at minimizing symptoms for as long as possible.
Relieving seasonal allergy symptoms
Symptom relief is directed minimizing the symptoms the child is experiencing. The main symptoms children experience with seasonal allergies include: headache, stuffy nose, runny nose, cough, sneezing, eye discomfort (dry eyes, itchy eyes, watery eyes). While preventative medications should minimize the occurrence of these symptoms, break through symptoms are common during peak allergy season even when the medications are taken daily. For this reason, other strategies are often needed in combination with the preventative medications to keep symptoms down to a dull roar. Typical relief strategies for each symptom include the following:
If the headache is a simple sinus pressure headache, over the counter pain medications are typically enough. Follow the directions on the package by age and weight for the suitable dose. If the headache is accomplanied with fever, green nasal discharge, sinus tenderness or pressure, or cough, consult your pediatrician to make sure a sinus infection has not developed.
- Stuffy nose
This is a very, very common complaint during allergy season and can occur even with the best allergy plans in place. One of the best ways of flushing the nasal passages and clearing them of pollen and mucous is over the counter saline spray. This is not only safe but easy to use in all ages and can be used as offen as needed. Using a humidifyer in the bedroom is also useful to keep the nasal passages clear. If these remedies don’t work, consult your pediatrician about medication options. While decongestants sound like a useful option, for allergies there are other prescription options such as steroid nose sprays that are very safe and easy to use in children over 2 years of age and much more effective than over the counter products long term.
- Runny nose
As often as noses become stuff, they run. As long as the discharge is clear, this is very common during allergy season. Often it slows down as the antihistamine takes effect, if not, call your pediatrician if it becomes concerning to you.
Sneezing is typically from reaction to the allergen in the environment – the pollen or mold. The antihistamine the child is taken daily usually curtails this. If the sneezing develops on the antihistamine, call your pediatrician to discuss other options, over the counter or prescription, as well as to review the dose your child is one.
During allergy season, cough is often due to post nasal drip from congestion but may be due to wheezing in children with allergic asthma. If your child develops a cough during allergy season, it isn’t going away with the plan you have in place or is associated with wheezing or respiratory distress, call your pediatrician.
- Eye discomfort
Eye complaints are common in many kids during allergy season. Over the counter eye rewetting drops are the first step in all ages. If these don’t provide relief, call your pediatrician to discuss other eye drop products. If the eyes become red with discharge, your child may have a pink eye, a conjunctivitis. Call your pediatrician to discuss if an office visit is needed or if something can be prescribed over the phone.
Spring is a wonderful season best enjoyed outside and sneeze free. So, if your child has the symptoms of seasonal allergies, call your pediatrician today to get a plan in place so everyone can enjoy the outdoor fun all season long.