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. For instance, a child with a birch pollen allergy will have increased symptoms in the spring when birch trees are in bloom. Kids with grass allergies will be hit hardest during the summer, while those with ragweed allergies will suffer most in the fall.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
Common symptoms of hay fever include:
- Congestion or sinus pressure
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Swollen, bluish-colored skin beneath the eyes
- Reduced sense of taste or smell
Hay fever may be just an annoyance for a child with mild symptoms. However, severe pollen allergies can affect kids' schoolwork and prevent him from playing outdoors. Symptoms of hay fever usually diminish as children age. The best way to combat hay fever is to avoid the particular allergen but, at certain times of year, that may be impossible.
Tips to prevent and reduce symptoms
- Keep your child indoors on days that are both dry and windy
- Don't ask your child to do yard work or other outside chores during peak allergy seasons
- 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
- Vacuum your home often (using a machine with a HEPA filter)
- See an allergist to be properly diagnosed and discuss allergic triggers
Medications to treat allergies
Because hay fever is common, there are many medications available to treat its 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 or neti pot can help flush pollens from your child's nose as well.
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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