Allergies can be a barely noticeable runny nose that clears up as soon as pollen blooms fade. It can also be itching, watery eyes, difficulty breathing and uncontrollable sneezing during the spring and summer. Bay Street Pediatrics is here to help you better understand your child’s allergies and provide solutions to these symptoms.
Nearly 20% of children in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies. Once called hay fever – despite not resulting from hay or running a fever – seasonal allergies are the result of an immune system response to a range of environmental allergens, which can surge or wane with the change of seasons. Your child’s immune system reacts to these allergens as if they are a real danger to their health, creating antibodies to “battle” the invader, resulting in allergy symptoms such as hives, sneezing, coughing or runny eyes.
Seasonal allergies tend to begin just as winter’s cold and flu season is wrapping up, so we must first determine if your child really has seasonal allergies or if there is another reason for their runny nose. To distinguish a cold or virus from a seasonal allergy, examine the mucus coming from your child’s nose, as it’s an excellent indicator of the cause. If the mucus is thick and/or opaque, your child probably has a cold or virus. If the mucus is runny and clear, it’s most likely allergies.
Most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, post-nasal drip, and nasal congestion. While these may sound like minor inconveniences, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that these symptoms can be persistent enough to cause real declines in a child’s quality of life and health. Itching eyes can lead to conjunctivitis or pink eye from rubbing and touching eyes. Congestion can cause trouble breathing at night, leading to a loss of crucial sleep. Chronic congestion and resultant inflammation can result in ear infections. Hives can cause flaking and peeling, which may lead to infections.
Allergy diagnoses typically increase between 3 and 5 years old because this is the age when children begin encountering more of the world, and so are exposed to more allergens. Seasonal allergies are caused by various pollens from trees, grass and plants. Environmental factors including animal hair, dust mites, mold, smoke, car exhaust, and even perfume could also cause allergy symptoms.
To ease allergy symptoms, help your child avoid the allergens that trigger their immune system. Tracking local pollen counts, keeping windows closed, and using a HEPA filter system will keep pollen-exposure to a minimum. More sensitive allergy sufferers should shower and change clothes when coming inside from outdoor time. On high pollen count days, you may want to limit time outdoors to provide more relief. Remove carpets if possible, or have them steam cleaned frequently. Change bedsheets often and wash towels frequently. Use fragrance free soaps and detergents.
Because some allergens can’t be fully avoided, Bay Street Pediatrics can help relieve symptoms with a range of treatments and medications. Over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines can be administered according to medication label instructions for children over 2 years of age. For younger children, please call our office to discuss proper dosage. If your child is still battling discomfort from allergy symptoms, we may consider prescription medications. In some cases, allergy immunotherapy can provide more meaningful relief.
If your child experiences a runny nose or cough for more than a week, send us a message through your patient portal to discuss the possibility of an allergic reaction. Your healthcare provider here at Bay Street Pediatrics wants your child to enjoy spring, summer and fall and is ready to help make that happen.