May flowers are often not the only things blooming after April showers.
“The allergens from some springtime flowers can also lead to some pretty severe allergy symptoms in children,” said Tracy Rife, RN, BSN, AE-C, asthma and easy breathing program coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. “But with proper precautions and treatment, your child could be ready for an endless summer of allergy-free fun.”
As with many medical conditions, the best way to deal with allergies is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place.
- Remove potential allergen sources from your home and other places where your child spends substantial amounts of time. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) offers recommendations on how to allergy-proof your home. Visit their website at aaaai.org.
- Watch pollen counts at pollen.com and by entering your city or zip code to get the pollen forecast for your area. Keep your child indoors when the count is high.
- Use a daily nasal saline rinse to lessen your child’s reactions to airborne allergens via a squeeze bottle or a Neti pot, as recommended by your child’s doctor.
Your child’s doctor may recommend or prescribe prescription or over-the-counter medicines to relieve allergy symptoms.
- Nasal corticosteroids are sprays that reduce the swelling that causes a stuffy, runny and itchy nose.
- Antihistamines block histamine, a trigger of allergic swelling. They treat seasonal and indoor allergies and can ease sneezing, itching, runny nose and hives. They come in pills, liquids, melting tablets or nasal sprays.
- Mast cell stabilizers prevent your body from releasing histamine. They are available as eye drops or nasal sprays. Mast cell stabilizers help relieve itchy, watery eyes or an itchy, runny nose.
- Decongestants reduce stuffiness by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose. They can worsen swelling and stuffiness if used more than three days in a row so check with your doctor before taking them.
- Corticosteroid creams or ointments can relieve itchiness and stop rashes from spreading. Check with your child’s doctor if the rash continues after a week of using the cream.
- Oral corticosteroids. Your child’s physician may prescribe these to reduce swelling and stop severe allergic reactions. These medicines are different from the anabolic steroids illegally used by some athletes but can still cause serious side effects.
- Epinephrine. This medication, which comes in pre-measured and self-injectable devices, is the most important treatment when life-threatening anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) occurs. The shot must be administered within minutes of the first sign of a severe allergic reaction to food, stinging insects, latex and drugs/medicines.
Also referred to as immunotherapy, allergy shots can greatly decrease the severity of your child’s reaction to an allergen. These shots actually contain a little bit of the allergen, which over the course of months or years, helps teach the body to how to handle it better.
If your pediatrician thinks your child might have an allergy, he or she will probably refer you to a:
- Pediatric allergist. These physicians have the same medical background as a pediatrician, but have received additional training in pediatric allergy and immunology.
- Pediatric pulmonologist. These experts are adept at diagnosing, treating and managing children from birth to age 21 with breathing problems and lung diseases. In addition to at least four years of medical school, these physicians have three years of pediatric residency training, as well as a three-year fellowship in pediatric pulmonology.
In case of emergency
If you think your child is having difficulty breathing or another severe allergic reaction, administer injectable epinephrine and call 911 immediately.