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Health Services » Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

Does your child have seasonal allergies?
 
 Seasonal Allergies  ~ Spring, Summer and Fall
 
 
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is a common problem in infants and children. The most common symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, sore throat, throat clearing and a cough that may be worse at night and in the morning. These symptoms usually occur during certain times of the year for people with seasonal allergies, corresponding to being exposed to outdoor allergens, such as tree pollens, grasses and weeds. Other people may have perennial allergies, with problems occurring year round from exposure to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pets, second hand smoke and molds.

Other signs of having allergic rhinitis include the 'allergic salute,' a common habit of children which consists of rubbing their nose upward. This is usually because the nose is itchy and this practice can lead to a small crease in the skin of the lower part of the nose. Children with allergic rhinitis also commonly have 'allergic shiners,' which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion.

An excellent website that may assist you in tracking pollen and molds is pollen.com.  Once you sign up online they will send you a daily email with the specific trees, plants, grasses that are blooming and pollinating.  We see trees high in the spring, grasses in the summer and in mid-August ragweed blooms.  In the fall the fallen leaves gather on the ground and develop mold causing those individuals with mold allergies to have symptoms.  

Allergic rhinitis does run in certain families and are more common in children that have asthma or eczema. It is also more common in children that are exposed to second hand smoke, air pollution and pets.

Having uncontrolled allergies can put your child at risk for getting a secondary sinus infection, ear infections, and for having poor concentration at school. It can also make asthma symptoms worse.

The best treatment for allergic rhinitis is to avoid what your child is allergic to by following prevention and environmental controls. For seasonal allergies, this includes keeping windows closed in the car and at home to avoid exposure to pollens and limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest (early morning for tree pollen in the spring, afternoon and early evening for grasses in the summer, and midday for ragweed in the fall).

The medications that are used to control the symptoms of allergic rhinitis include decongestants, antihistamines and steroids.  There are many medications available to help your child be more comfortable if they have allergies.  Please consult your child's doctor for guidance in which medication is best for their symptoms.  

To be effective, your child should be using these medications every day. They will not work as well if just used on an as needed basis.   For seasonal allergies, it is best to start using these medications just before your child's season begins and then continue the medicines every day all through the season. For perennial allergies, your child may need to take these medicines year round.

If your child does not improve with these interventions, then consider having him/her  see an allergy specialist for skin testing to figure out what he is allergic to.