Spring is here and with that comes allergy season. Allergy symptoms affect 1:5 people and some of the first symptoms often begin in childhood. Seasonal allergies are usually not seen until a child is 3 -4 years of age. If a child's parents both suffer from allergic rhinitis their children have a 70 -80 % chance of developing allergies as well.
While some people call allergies hay fever this is really an inaccurate name. The allergy may have nothing to do with hay, but rather may be due to tree pollens or grasses, and children with allergies don't have a fever.
The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are an itchy nose, with a clear nasal discharge, watery and red eyes, sneezing, congestion, post nasal drip and a cough.
When your child is outside playing they are inhaling the pollens and grasses that are prevalent at this time of year and these pollens may cause the release of histamines in an allergic child. The histamines are responsible for many of the allergic symptoms.
On days that your child seems to be suffering from a runny nose, itchy eyes and a scratchy throat you may use an antihistamine to help control their symptoms.
There are non sedating antihistamines, like Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra which are all available over the counter and are given once a day. Benadryl is still a great antihistamine although it is often sedating and is not long lasting, so I often use it at bedtime.
When your child comes in from playing it will also help to bath them and wash their hair to remove the pollen from their bodies.
Lastly, to help control outdoor allergy symptoms ask your doctor about a nasal steroid prescription which when used daily during allergy season may reduce the allergic response.
I'm Dr. Sue with The Kid's Doctor helping parents take charge.