5 Tips For Helping Your Child Through Seasonal Allergies
The long and harsh winter of 2015 has set us up for one of the worst allergy seasons in years. If your child has been suffering from a runny nose, watery eyes, or even lost sleep, there’s a good chance allergies are the cause. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions. In my 30 years as a pediatric allergist, I have seen the below tips make a big difference in beating back the pollen, so that your child — and you — can enjoy the summer.
Know how to spot allergies. Most people associate allergies with a runny nose and itchy eyes, and those symptoms are common. However, allergies can manifest themselves in other ways, such as greater-than-usual exhaustion or puffy, red circles under your child’s eyes. Keep an eye out for these signs, as there may be an easy fix right around the corner.
Check the pollen count. If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, checking the pollen count should be as routine as checking the weather. Depending on the intensity of your child’s symptoms, a pollen count of moderate or above should give you pause about spending the day outdoors, as being inside with air conditioning is best. Websites such as accuweather.com and pollen.com can help, and many will predict pollen counts for the week ahead, allowing you to plan family outings accordingly. It’s also wise to pay attention to wind levels, as high winds will send more pollen your way.
Try to keep the pollen outdoors. Symptoms are prolonged when your children bring pollen into the home. Have them take off their shoes after being outside and shower before bedtime. Be sure to keep the windows closed when seasonal allergies are in full force.
Get the proper diagnosis. There are numerous over-the-counter allergy medications on the market. Although these medications do not require a prescription, it’s still important to consult an allergist before choosing one. Different medications are best for different symptoms, from nasal congestion to watery eyes to coughing, and you can maximize medicines’ effectiveness by simply choosing the right one. A visit to the doctor is also important in the event that your child might suffer from asthma, which often goes hand-in-hand with allergies but requires different treatment.
Consider using a nasal spray – correctly. Many people can benefit from over-the-counter nasal sprays, but few know how to use them properly. These sprays should be taken while leaning forward in a seated positon with your chin over your toes, pointing the nozzle towards the ear closest to your nostril. Ask an allergist whether a nasal spray would address your child’s symptoms, and be sure to have the allergist demonstrate proper usage.
Children with allergies can and should continue to be children, taking part in the outdoor sports and activities they love. Medications can often reduce and even eliminate allergy symptoms, but their effectiveness depends on choosing the right medicine and using it properly. Day-to-day changes can also reduce pollen exposure outdoors and in your home. Summer is the favorite season of many children, and a bad allergy season should not stop them from enjoying it to its fullest.