If your child has seasonal or year-round environmental allergies, you already know many of the basic facts. You know your child's allergy symptoms are triggered by allergens like pollen, dander or mold spores. You're aware that these symptoms can make outdoor sports and other activities difficult for your child during certain months. And, you know your doctor can prescribe certain treatments to ease the sneezing, itching and watery eyes that appear each year.
But there are also many allergy myths that circulate. Learn seven facts about seasonal allergies.
1. Not every child has allergies
Respiratory allergies affect more than 6 million children in the U.S. Some children exhibit allergic sensitivity to pollens from trees, grasses or weeds in spring, summer or early fall. Others – especially those sensitive to dust mites, animal dander or mold – experience symptoms year-round.
2. Seasonal allergies develop at all ages
Seasonal allergies can develop at almost any time. It is unusual for a child under age 1 to be diagnosed with seasonal allergies. They usually affect children by the time they're 10 years old. Some allergies may disappear as a child grows. Others may appear up through adulthood as he or she encounters new potential allergens.
3. Moving to a different place won't cure allergies
Grass and ragweed pollen can be found almost everywhere, and certain pollens are very cross-reactive. Meaning, even if you move your child away from a grass they're allergic to, they can develop allergies to a new regional grass instead.
4. Flowers do not trigger allergy symptoms
Flower pollen does not usually contribute to children's allergy symptoms. Pollens from trees, grasses and weeds are much lighter and can float through the air for a long time. These are the usual culprits for seasonal symptoms.
5. Allergies can be less severe on rainy days
Pollen counts tend to be lower right after heavy rains. Levels can also be affected by temperature, humidity and time of day. If your child has seasonal allergy symptoms, you may want to keep him or her indoors during the day. Especially on hot, dry and windy days when pollen tends to run highest.
6. Prescribed allergy medication should be taken for the whole season
Once you've identified your child's allergy triggers and the corresponding season(s), your doctor may prescribe a medicine to minimize symptoms. Allergens can cause an inflammatory response in your child that could last for weeks. So, it's best for your child to take medicine through the whole indicated season.
7. Allergy shots are effective
Though scientists haven't yet found a cure for allergies, allergy shots can reduce reactions in severely allergic children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved tablets that dissolve under the tongue as an alternative to allergy shots for ragweed or grass pollens. Talk to your child's doctor for more information.
The allergy specialists at Children's Health℠ can help diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Learn more about our Allergy program and services.