Ah, the springtime — the season of blue skies, sunny days, and blooming flowers. Unfortunately for many of us, it’s also a time of endless sneezing, itchy eyes and runny noses. Seasonal allergies can put a damper on the beauty of spring, but for little children (and their parents), it can be especially difficult. After all, we always want to soothe our children when they’re unhappy, yet knowing how to help a child with seasonal allergies can leave many parents feeling a little blocked up themselves.
So to help you, here’s everything you need to know about seasonal allergies in kids.
Seasonal allergies occur when trees, grass, weeds, and flowers release pollen into the air, which enters our bodies via our eyes, nose and throat — causing allergic reactions in many people. Symptoms of seasonal allergies in kids can include runny nose, sneezing, congestion, sore throat, chronic coughing and itchy eyes. Two tell-tale signs your child is being affected by these allergies include ‘allergic shiners’, which are dark circles just below the eyes; and an ‘allergic salute’, which is a small crease above the nose, indicating that they’ve been rubbing their nose repeatedly. When both parents have seasonal allergies, there is a 75% chance the child will have them, too. When only one parent does, there’s a 50% chance.
Seasonal Allergies vs. the Common Cold
As parents, we know that childhood is a time for countless illnesses, resulting from the petri-dish that is daycare, the playground, and the sandbox. Our kids are exposed to an unending slew of germs — which is a good thing for building up strong immune systems, but can make deciphering seasonal allergies tough. Here are some key differences between the allergies and the common cold:
- Typically, seasonal allergies affect children over the age of 1
- Seasonal allergies are not accompanied by fever
- Seasonal allergies do not usually lead to fatigue
- Itchy, watery eyes are usually only seen in seasonal allergies
- Both colds and allergies result in runny noses, but in a cold the discharge tends to be greener in color, and more transparent in allergies
Minimizing Allergic Triggers
Once you’ve determined that your child has seasonal allergies, now’s the time to do something about it. And the place to start is minimizing their exposure to allergic triggers. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you can take:
- Make sure your child washes their hands and face after playing outside
- Rinse their eyes lightly with saline, if their eyes are puffy and swollen
- Limit outdoor activities when pollen levels are high (you can usually find this information in your local weather forecast)
- Machine-dry their clothes, rather than hanging outside
- Keep windows closed on high pollen days
How to Treat a Child with Seasonal Allergies
Ok, you’ve identified your child’s allergies, limited their exposure, and now are ready for some treatment. There are a number of over-the-counter and prescription remedies for seasonal allergies in children. If you’re going over-the-counter, make sure to read the labels carefully and only give your child one oral antihistamine at a time. In every case, you’ll want to talk to your family pediatrician first, to find the right solution for your child.
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, your child’s health, well-being and comfort are always our top priorities. If you think your child is suffering from the spring-sniffles, schedule a visit in one of our five locations today. And then get out there and enjoy the spring!