Spring is here, and the warm weather is definitely lifting our spirits! Hopefully, you and your children are able to spend more time outside over the next several months. While we all love the extra time outdoors, unfortunately, many of us will experience some seasonal allergy symptoms along the way.
The nasal passageways are particularly vulnerable to inhaled allergens, resulting in an allergic response. The response may include the following:
- Clear nasal discharge (Schmitt, 2011)
- Itchy nose with sneezing (Burns, Bunn, Brady, Starr, & Blosser, 2009)
- Itchy, watery, and pink eyes (Schmitt, 2011)
- Itchy throat (Burns et al., 2009)
- Sinus or ear congestion (Schmitt, 2011).
- Mouth breathing, snoring, nasal speech (Burns et al. 2009)
- Hoarseness to voice (Burns et al., 2009)
Typical allergens include pollen of trees, grasses, weeds (ragweed and other weeds), and outdoor molds (Burns et al., 2009). There can be geographic variations, as well as climate changes, that will determine when allergens are released into the environment (Burns et al., 2009). For example, in April and May, pollen causing hay fever is typically from trees. In June and July, the pollen is usually from grass. From August until the first frost, the pollen is from ragweed (Schmitt, 2011). Allergic Rhinitis is a chronic condition that will probably come back every year during pollen season. These symptoms usually begin to occur in children 3 years of age and older (Burns et al., 2009). Therefore, it’s important to know how to control the symptoms.
Avoiding exposure to the allergen as much as possible is key to minimizing symptoms (Burns et al., 2009). It is important to wash linens in hot water weekly. This will eliminate any allergen that your child has brought inside or to bed with him that remained on his clothes or skin from the day. Of course, a bath at night (remember to wash hair too!) will be helpful to remove the allergens directly off the body (Schmitt, 2011). When it is windy outside, it would be best to stay indoors. Close the windows to prevent wind blowing allergens into the house. It would also be helpful to avoid long drives with the windows down in the car. Avoid playing with pets that have been outside all day. Lastly, use an air conditioner rather than a window fan in the summer; fans may pull pollen into the house (Schmitt, 2011).
Other tips include applying a cool compress to itchy or watery eyes for 10 minutes, and using saline spray in the nose to flush out any pollen that is in the nasal passageway. Pharmacologic therapy includes oral and nasal antihistamines, as well as eye drops to help with symptoms. Lastly, if symptoms are severe and have not improved with avoidance measures and pharmacologic therapy, allergen immunotherapy is indicated (Burns et al., 2009).
The severity of your child’s the allergy symptoms will determine what level of treatment is recommended or prescribed.
Burns, C.E., Dunn, A.M., Brady, M.A., Starr, N.B., 7 Blosser, C.G. (2009). Pediatric primary care (4th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.
Schmitt, B.D. (2011). Hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Retrieved from http://www.cpnonline.org/CRS/CRS/pa_hayfever_hhg.htm