Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, are among the most common allergies in the United States. Hay fever results from an allergic reaction to pollen. Depending on the type of pollen your child is allergic to, he or she may only be affected at certain times of the year.
What causes allergies in the spring?
Tree pollen is a common trigger of spring allergy symptoms. Allergens can vary by region, but the trees responsible for many spring allergies include ash, birch, elm, pine, oak, pecan, hickory, poplar and walnut trees. For instance, a child with a birch pollen allergy will have increased symptoms in the spring when birch trees are in bloom. Other allergies will peak during different seasons. Kids with grass allergies will be hit hardest during the summer, and those with ragweed allergies will suffer most in the fall.
What are the symptoms of spring allergies?
Signs children have spring allergies include:
- Congestion or sinus pressure
- Runny nose or irritated nasal passages
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Swollen, bluish-colored skin beneath the eyes
- Reduced sense of taste or smell
Spring allergies may be just an annoyance for a child with mild symptoms. However, severe pollen allergies can affect kids' schoolwork and prevent him or her from playing outdoors. Symptoms of hay fever usually diminish as children age. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergen, but at certain times of year, that may be difficult.
How to help a child with spring allergies
- Keep your child indoors on days that are both dry and windy
- Don't ask your child to do yard work or other outdoor chores during peak spring allergy season
- Remove and wash clothing that your child has worn outside
- Have your child shower or bathe when coming in from outside
- Keep doors and windows closed when pollen counts are high (check your local weather) and use air conditioning to keep your car and home cool
- Buy a portable high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) or dehumidifier or both
- Combat dust mites by vacuuming your home often (using a machine with a HEPA filter)
- See an allergist for medical advice, to be properly diagnosed and discuss allergic triggers
These tips can help reduce children's seasonal allergies year-round. See an infographic for more tips to fight seasonal allergies.
What is the best spring allergy medicine?
Because spring allergies are common, there are many medications available to treat allergy symptoms. If high pollen counts are in the forecast, ask your physician if you should start giving your child allergy medications before symptoms begin. Medications to treat hay fever symptoms include:
- Antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Claritin
- Decongestants including Afrin and Sudafed
- Combination antihistamine and decongestant medications like Actifed or Claritin-D
Nasal irrigation with a squeeze bottle can help flush pollens from your child's nose as well. Eye drops may help ease eye irritation.
The allergy specialists at Children's Health℠ can help diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Learn more about our Allergy program and services.
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