Getting a Jump on Spring Allergies
Spring seems to come earlier and earlier every year, and its arrival ignites seasonal allergies in many children and adults. Below, pediatric allergist Dr. Joyce Yu provides some tips for recognizing signs of an allergy, preventing severe symptoms, and most effective treatments.
Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes, and, less frequently, cough and itchy skin. If your child has these symptoms and has not been diagnosed with seasonal allergies before, call your pediatrician to help you figure out what the symptoms mean—and how to chase away those itchy eyes and sneezes.
If your child has had seasonal allergies in spring in the past, it’s time to ask your pediatrician or allergist if and when to start allergy medications this year. “The key is to start the medication regimen as early in the spring as possible, and to take those medications every day,” says Dr. Yu.
Common allergy medications are antihistamines by mouth, saline nasal sprays, medicated nasal sprays, and allergy eyedrops. There may be a little trial and error involved, she notes, but your pediatrician or allergist can help you figure out which regimen will work the best for your child. And if he or she has asthma that is triggered by allergies, make sure asthma medications are part of the regimen.
Take measures to protect your child from exposure to pollen, Dr. Yu advises. “Keep the windows closed at home and in your car, and run your air-conditioning, since it will filter out pollen. Remove your child’s shoes, coats, and outwear immediately when they come indoors. Then have your child wash hands and face, especially around the eyes. Nightly showers will help them avoid bringing pollen into the bed.”
If your child is allergic to flower, tree, and/or grass pollen, check the pollen forecast each day. (Many websites track pollen counts including weather.com, pollen.com, and the National Allergy Bureau.) On days with high pollen counts, especially when it's very windy, lean toward things you can do indoors. Pollen counts tend to be lower early in the morning and increase throughout the day, so factor time of day when planning outdoor activities.