After an especially harsh winter in Ohio, spring is finally here.
Yet, all those pretty blooms can cause ugly problems for your child – in the form of springtime allergies.
Nearly 60 million Americans, or 1 in 5 children and adults, will find themselves sneezing and rubbing their eyes when trees, grasses and other new growths begin releasing their pollens.
What’s a parent to do if their child is affected?
- Know the symptoms of spring allergies. These may include an itchy nose and eyes, a tickly throat, sneezing, puffy eyes, a runny or stuffy nose and skin rashes. For some children, allergies may trigger asthma.
- Realize that allergies can develop as your child ages. Infants do not have seasonal allergies because children need exposure to several seasons of pollen before they start reacting to pollen, but don’t be surprised if your allergy-free toddler turns into an allergic older child.
- Consult your pediatrician or allergist.These specialists may conduct allergy testing, prescribe medications or refer your child to an immunologist (a physician who diagnoses, treats and manages allergies, asthma and other immunologic disorders).
- Learn about allergy medications. Discuss the various over-the-counter medicines with your child’s doctor. Before using a nasal spray, for example, talk with the doctor about prescription sprays that may be more appropriate for long-term use.
- Check daily pollen reports. Visit the National Allergy Bureau website and sign up to have local pollen and mold counts sent to your email. When the counts are particularly high, you may want to keep your child indoors.
- Have your child shower in the evening. After being exposed to pollens during the day, your child should take a shower or bath to wash off the pollens before bedtime. Remove clothes and wash them too.
- Be wary of severe allergy attacks. Watch for any signs or symptoms of a severe allergy attack. These may include swelling of the face (especially the tongue) and sensations of the throat swelling or tightening. In these cases, your child needs immediate medical attention.
- Watch for signs of asthma. If your child has prolonged coughing, is unable to catch their breath or is wheezing, he may be having difficulty breathing. This indicates a more serious condition like asthma. If these symptoms develop, your child should stop playing outside and come in and rest. If symptoms continue and/or are severe, take your child to a hospital emergency department.
- Inform caregivers, teachers and coaches. Be sure to tell these people about your child’s allergic conditions and how they should be managed.
- Ask your doctor about natural remedies. Some parents have found that grape juice and nasal washes successfully relieve symptoms. Cold compresses on the eyes may relieve itching. In addition, recent studies have shown that raw honey might help. If made locally (within 20 miles of home), the honey can introduce allergens from your child’s immediate environment and gradually help your child become immune to the allergens. Talk to your doctor before trying this and never give honey to a child under one year of age.
- Empathize with your child. We all know what it feels like to have the common cold. Allergies can make someone feel just as bad. When your child has allergies, he or she may feel lousy while continuing to go to school, play sports or do other activities. Allergies can also make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.