Today's guest blogger is Joanna Johnson, MD, FAAAAI, Allergist, Pulmonology & Allergy, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.
While many people will welcome warmer weather and a change of the seasons, allergy sufferers know all too well that the spring will mean familiar and irritating symptoms such as an itchy nose or throat, sneezing, a runny nose or congestion, and itchy, watery eyes.
Allergies can affect people of all ages, but can be especially rough on children. They can interfere with your child's daily life, disrupting sleep, productivity during the day, and the ability to spend time outdoors. If you suspect your child may have seasonal allergies, there are a variety of treatments and practices that can be utilized to help alleviate symptoms and provide relief.
Consider the following tips to help your child manage allergies this spring:
Be mindful of the weather
The weather and location you live in can greatly affect your child's allergies. Though it varies based on climate, trees generally pollinate in the spring. Grasses release their pollen later in the spring and in the summer. Pollen travels more with hot, dry and breezy weather, which can increase your child's allergy symptoms.
Another factor to pay attention to are pollen and mold spore counts. As these vary from day to day, you can visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website to check the pollen and spore levels in your geographic area. In Philadelphia, the data is provided by the Asthma Center. If the pollen count is particularly high that day, parents should limit their child's outdoor activity. For children who participate in spring sports, one option is to have the child wear glasses or goggles to avoid eye irritation.
Wash away traces of allergens
Make sure your child washes his or her hair and changes into clean clothes before going to bed to avoid irritation during the night. You can also cover your child's hair with a cap before sleeping. If you have pets, be sure to wash or wipe off their fur every time after they come indoors.
Visit the doctor
Severe seasonal allergies can be treated with medication. There are several different forms of allergy medications including eye drops, nasal sprays, and sedating and non-sedating antihistamines. It is recommended that the child start their prescribed medication before peak allergy season occurs as a preventative measure, and this is especially true for hay fever medications. If your child's symptoms continue despite medication, immunotherapy (shots delivered by an allergist) may also be a treatment option to discuss with your child's healthcare provider.
Keep pollen out of your home
Only dry clothes in the dryer and do not hang clothes or sheets outside to dry, as the pollen can settle on linens and exacerbate allergies. In addition, it is important to keep windows closed in the house and car to limit allergen exposure. It is especially important to avoid the use of a fan if keeping windows open, as the fan will keep the pollen airborne. If possible, it's best to use air conditioning in the house to decrease humidity in the air and keep the pollen out.
For more information on managing seasonal allergies, visit the AAAAI website.