Oh, the joys of spring! With those lovely daffodils often come runny noses, itchy eyes and a drip down the throat that just won’t stop. Allergies are more than a minor annoyance, especially if the person suffering through them is your child. Allergies have no known cure, at least not yet, so when spring allergies hit, you and your child are in it for the long haul. Fighting off spring allergies and dealing with symptoms is, however, possible.
Seasonal allergies often mimic colds, but typically should be treated differently. Of course, your first stop should always be the pediatrician, especially if your child’s symptoms worsen or include high fever and severe congestion, or if he or she has asthma. Many symptoms of allergies can be treated at home. When the days grow long, try some of these tested strategies.
Identify and Avoid Allergy Triggers
Yes, pollen is everywhere this time of year, but you can diminish its impact upon your child without becoming a shut in.
- Check the local pollen report to determine which days have the most severe pollen counts. You’ll want to keep an eye on tree pollen and mold, too. Consider staying indoors on the worst days or on those when the wind is whipping up. Your mantra may become rain, rain go away, because post-rain hours are a great time to be outside for allergy sufferers.
- No matter what the pollen count is for the day, the a.m. hours will be the worst for allergy sufferers. Of course, you’ll have to get your child to school. Schedule prolonged, outdoor playtime for the afternoon and early evening hours, when pollen counts are lower and your child can exercise freely with less risk of triggering an allergy or asthma attack.
- Don’t bring the outdoors in. Make sure people take their shoes off at the front door and be sure to wipe down your pet’s coat and paws after being outside.
- Have your child shower daily upon returning home from the outdoors. This includes washing hair thoroughly and washing clothing after each use.
- Allergens will sneak inside your home no matter what you do. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping sneezes at bay by running your air conditioner and keeping the windows closed, as well as by dusting often to eliminate dust mites and using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter.
Control Allergy Symptoms and Suffering
It is unlikely that you will be able to avoid spring allergies completely. Suffering through them is generally not a realistic option, especially for an active child. Consult your doctor when considering medications. Consider that many allergy sufferers fare better for the entire season if they begin a medication regimen prior to symptoms starting.
- Antihistamines – These block the substance histamine, which is released by the body as a reaction to allergens. Histamine is the culprit behind most allergic reactions. Antihistamines are typically available as over-the-counter medication. They can be purchased in child-friendly dosing options. Some also include a decongestant to help reduce congestion in the nose or chest. There are a number of popular brands and formulas. Some will make your child drowsy, so make sure to check the label for all possible side effects and discuss these with your child’s pediatrician.
- Eye drops – Eye drops help to alleviate itchiness and redness directly in the eyes. Most are recommended only for children over the age of three.
- Steroid nasal sprays – Many children benefit from long-term use of these medications, which should only be used when prescribed by a doctor.
- Immunotherapy – No one wants to take an injection, but for some allergy sufferers this will be the best line of defense. Talk to your child’s doctor about allergy shots, or about the under-the-tongue tablets that can now be taken at home.
Remember that over-the-counter drugs are still drugs. Before you give your child anything or any combination of anything, check with your doctor. This includes nasal sprays, which may contain some of the same ingredients found in oral medication. Taken together, they can be dangerous unless prescribed.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.