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Springtime and Seasonal Allergies

Judy Arnao, RN, is a Registered Nurse in our Pediatrics Clinic. Our Pediatrics Clinic is dedicated to providing excellence in primary care for infants, children and adolescents. If you would like to set up an appointment for your child, please call us at 617-779-1500.

Child outdoors blowing dandelion fuzz in springtime. Seasonal allergies.

Although I love the spring season with all the beautiful flowers, green grass and trees blooming, these same flowers, grasses and trees cause me some discomfort.  As soon as March begins, I know the spring allergy season will arrive quickly and I’ll have to start dealing with my hay fever.

Seasonal allergies, or hay fever, are the body’s reaction to airborne particles such as pollen or mold. This type of allergy kicks up at the times of year when certain trees, grasses, or weeds are in flower, or when mold releases its spores into the air.

Pollen and mold aren’t actually harmful in any way, but when an allergic child or adult breathes in pollen or mold spores, their body perceives it as a dangerous invader and reacts by releasing histamine and other chemicals.

Allergies can be an unwelcome spring challenge for parents and children, but there are signs you can look for and ways you can reduce your family’s exposure to allergens.

What symptoms should I look for?

Histamine, one of the body’s reactions to allergens, inflames the nose and airways, and the body’s other chemicals cause the well-known symptoms of hay fever: congestion, runny and/or itchy nose, scratchy throat, watery, itchy and/or puffy eyes, and itchiness in the ears.

How can I help?

Of the 50 million people affected by allergies, at least 35 million of them are affected by seasonal allergies. Pollen is a highly common seasonal allergy, with the season typically lasting between early spring and early October.

If you think your child may be affected, here are several ways to help reduce your child’s exposure to those allergens:

  • Keep car and home windows closed.
  • Use air conditioning to clean, cool and dry the air in your car and home.
  • Limit your child’s outdoor activity, especially between the hours of 5am and 10am when pollen counts are highest.
  • After being outside, wash hands and face and change clothes. Wash clothing before wearing again.
  • Bathe children before bedtime to wash off allergens. Wash hair as well.
  • Wash bedding once a week.
  • Dry clothes and bedding in a dryer, not by hanging them outside where they can easily collect pollen and other allergens.
  • Wet mop floors and vacuum.

Observe your child’s symptoms and try to keep a diary or notebook of your observations. When are their symptoms triggered? What triggers those symptoms? Are symptoms worse during the daytime or at night?

Over the counter medicine options include Children’s Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra to offer your child relief from their worst symptoms. Eye drops like Zaditor and Alaway can be kept in the refrigerator to offer cooling relief for itchy eyes.  Flonase Nasal spray may help with nasal inflammation.  Rinsing sinuses with a distilled saline is a good way to relieve congestion.  Neti pots or squeeze bottles for this purpose can be found at most pharmacies.

If symptoms persist, seek help from your pediatrician or nurse practitioner. They may be able to provide you with more information, refer you to an allergy specialist or offer other medication options for relief.

For more information about seasonal allergies, visit the KidsHealth website here.

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