Keep Kids Thriving Through Allergy Season

It’s springtime – the flowers begin to open, beams of sunshine warm our skin, and the pleasant breeze seems to breathe life back into nature. Children are eager to play outside after the long, bitter winter. But this season comes with a catch – it can cause congestion, itchy eyes, and lots of sneezing.

Bayhealth Otolaryngologist (ENT) Catherine Wright, MD, knows navigating pesky seasonal allergies can be a challenge for parents and kids alike. Children as young as three years old can have seasonal allergies. “It can be alarming to see your child suddenly dealing with allergy symptoms before they’re able to tell you what they’re experiencing,” said Dr. Wright. “Being prepared with preventive measures will help you get ahead of the allergy symptoms for future exposure.

Here’s Dr. Wright’s tips for helping you and your little one through the season.

  1. Find which allergens bother your child. Knowing what triggers allergies is important. Does your child have a flair up of symptoms after being outdoors? What time of day are the symptoms at their worst? Allergens are heavy in the transitional seasons – spring and fall – and they include mold, grass, and tree and weed pollen. Avoid things that will cause your child’s symptoms to worsen.
  2. Plan your play time accordingly. Keep your child indoors during peak pollen counts. Check the local weather report to find the day’s pollen count. The pollen count tells you how much pollen is in the air and which plants are producing it. Keep in mind that pollen counts are higher on warm, dry, and windy days.
  3. Wash up. When your child comes in from playing outside, wash their face and change their clothes to reduce continued exposure. Changing pillowcases frequently is another plus.
  4. Clean nasal passages. Saline nasal spray ‘washes’ the nose of the allergens. It’s just as important as washing hands, so be sure to have your child cleanse their nasal passages often. Steroid nasal sprays are shown to be even more effective. These can be used before the start of symptoms.
  5. Give antihistamines. Oral antihistamines like children’s Zyrtec and Claritin are best used when symptoms are already present. Antihistamine eye drops can also be prescribed if necessary. If you’re concerned about side effects or finding out which is the best option for your child, it’s best to consult your doctor. Allergy shots and immunotherapy are available for more severe cases. These methods can provide relief if the other over-the-counter options aren’t making a difference for your child.

Early treatment when it comes to allergies in children can make all the difference. Dr. Wright said, “a proactive approach is much better than a reactive approach,” and that being tested for allergies is more effective at pinpointing exactly which ones are causing symptoms. Children can be safely tested at any age. Seasonal allergies don’t have to ruin all the fun.

This story was provided by Bayhealth Otolaryngologist (ENT) Catherine Wright, MD