Seasonal Allergies in Children

Seasonal allergies, sometimes referred to as hay fever, are allergic reactions to pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses that typically persist during the fall and spring months. Pollen is a fine powdery substance consisting of microscopic grains that are released from plants by the wind and insects. Springtime allergies are often the result of pollen from trees like: oak, elm, birch, ash, hickory, maple, walnut, sycamore, and cypress.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes, dry/itchy eyes, and sneezing. These symptoms are triggered when pollen gets into the eyes, lungs, and nose. While there is no cure for seasonal allergies, several over the counter and prescription medications exist (in the forms of pills, sprays, and drops) that help provide relief from many seasonal allergy symptoms.

seasonal allergies in childContrary to popular belief, people are not always born with allergies, even though many allergies are hereditary. Sometimes allergies won’t develop until later in life, which can make the diagnosis difficult, because sufferers may not even realize that they are suffering from allergies.

Aside from medications, there are several behaviors that sufferers of seasonal allergies can practice to reduce their contact with allergens. Air conditioning and oscillating fans promote airflow that can keep pollen at bay while indoors. Since pollen can be tracked indoors on clothing, removing and washing clothes worn outside can keep pollen from getting indoors. A shower after a day spent outside will also ensure pollen on the skin and in the hair doesn’t cause an allergic reaction.

When possible, travel outside should be kept to a minimum between the hours of 5 am and 10 am, when the pollen count in the air is generally the highest. People who are especially sensitive to pollen should follow local weather reports for a daily pollen count, which can have an effect on the number and severity of allergic reactions a person experiences. Windows in homes and in cars should remain closed on days when the pollen count is high, and laundry should be dried indoors. Garden chores, like mowing the lawn or pulling weeds, should also be avoided when pollen is in the air.

Perennial allergies, like those caused by mold, dust, and pets, are more consistent than seasonal allergies and can affect people throughout the year. While symptoms may be similar, a doctor or pediatrician can usually determine whether allergies are seasonal or perennial. Parents of children who suffer from any type of allergy should inform teachers and babysitters about their child’s allergies, triggers, severity of attacks, and type of medication (if any) used to control symptoms. This not only prepares the teacher or sitter to help the child through an allergic reaction, but also allows them to take preventative measures to keep the risk of reactions to a minimum. Parents should also teach their children about allergic triggers so the child can develop a pattern of avoiding their triggers on their own. Even though allergies can make sufferers appear as if they have a cold or flu, an allergy is not a germ and can’t be caught or spread.

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