At first you think it’s a cold. Your child has a stuffy nose, the beginnings of a sore throat, and is sneezing. But the cold doesn’t get worse, and it doesn’t go away. Oh, that’s right, its spring and time for seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies can be caused by many triggers, such as pollen, mold and dust mites. While grass causes most allergies in the summer, and weeds in the fall, if your child is sniffling and itching in the spring, it is most likely tree pollen causing the problem. So what are the signs of seasonal allergies, and what can you do?
Signs and Symptoms
Allergy symptoms are highly individualized, so even if your child inherited your allergies, their symptoms may be a different mix of miserable than yours or that of a sibling. The most common symptoms associated with seasonal allergies include:
- Watery, itchy eyes and nose
- Scratchy or itchy throat, or even a mild sore throat caused by postnasal drip
- Nasal congestion or stuffiness (drainage is clear, not yellow like with a cold)
What can you do?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, any allergy treatment should begin with your pediatrician to ensure the relief plan for your child is safe and effective. Allergy testing can be performed to diagnose the exact cause, which allows for better treatment. If you are aware of the cause of your child’s allergies, there are some practical steps you can take to minimize their exposure:
- Keep the doors and windows closed to avoid allergens such as pollen from getting in.
- Install HEPA filters on your air conditioning system.
- Wash your child’s hands and face when they come in from outside.
- Regularly wash linens and bedding in hot water.
- Generally avoid the allergen if possible.
Giving your child allergy medication can also help to alleviate seasonal symptoms that are not easily avoided. A wide variety of over-the-counter medicines (OTC) are available for children, even infants as young as 6 months. Two common medications include:
- Steroidal nasal sprays
If you decide to try OTC medications, look to be sure they are long-acting and non-sedating. Nasal sprays can be difficult to administer as kids tend to resist them, but they are quite effective at treating the stuffy nose and congestion that come with seasonal allergies. If the allergies are more than just occasional, it is best to see your pediatrician for advice on the best treatment.
Allergies can be distracting to both your child’s academic and social life, so effectively managing the symptoms is important. If precautions and at-home treatments do not appear to be working, it may be time to consider more serious medication, or even allergy testing and long-range treatment. Don’t let seasonal allergies get in the way of your child enjoying the warmer weather outside; contact us with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s symptoms.