Mar 8, 2018, 11:16:02 AM CST Apr 1, 2024, 1:07:48 PM CDT

Fight seasonal allergies in kids

See 8 tips to minimize allergy symptoms in kids

Fights seasonal allergies in toddlers and children. Fights seasonal allergies in toddlers and children.

Seasonal allergies are among the most common allergies in the United States, affecting more than 1 in 5 children in the U.S.

What are seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever, happen when allergens are inhaled through the nose or mouth. The immune system mistakes these allergens as harmful, causing kids' allergy symptoms.

Some children simply have an allergy cough. Other allergy symptoms in kids include runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and a scratchy or sore throat. These symptoms may be more common at times of the year when there are more allergens in the air, such as pollen, dust or mold.

How do you know if your child has seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergy symptoms may range from mild to severe and are more common during seasons when tree and plant pollen levels are high. And, in certain regions such as North Texas, seasonal allergies can be year-round. See common seasonal allergies in the Dallas metroplex.

What age do seasonal allergies start in kids?

Seasonal allergies in kids can start at any age but they usually begin in children older than 2 or 3.

Pollen, the most common cause of kids' allergy symptoms, often takes several seasons of exposure to cause an allergy.

Occasionally, children under 2 can develop symptoms of year-round allergies when they react to indoor allergens like dust mites.

Seasonal allergy symptoms in kids

Allergy symptoms in kids include:

  • Congestion or sinus pressure
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Scratchy or sore throat
  • Cough
  • Swollen, bluish-colored skin beneath the eyes
  • Reduced sense of taste or smell

If your child has cold-like symptoms – such as a runny nose, sneezing or cough – every year at the same time, it could be a seasonal allergy. You may notice that kids' allergy symptoms tend to come on quickly and continue as long as a child is exposed to the allergen.

Learn more about different types of kids' allergies and how to tell the difference between a cold and allergies in kids.

How to help a child with seasonal allergies

Simple changes at home can help your child find relief from seasonal allergies, including:

  1. Staying inside when the pollen count is high or if it's a dry and windy day
  2. Limit your time around grass, fallen leaves or flowerbeds if allergies are flared up
  3. Washing clothes after being outside
  4. Bathing or showering after coming in from outside
  5. Keeping doors and windows closed
  6. Using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) air filter in your home
  7. Vacuuming often
  8. Flushing sinuses with a nasal rinse (for nasal congestion)

"Having a plan in place – both to avoid triggers and minimize symptoms before they start – is likely your best bet when dealing with seasonal allergies," says Jeffrey Chambliss, M.D., allergist at Children's Health℠ and Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern.

What can I give my child for seasonal allergies?

The best treatment for kids' seasonal allergies is limiting exposure to allergy triggers. There are also both prescription and over-the-counter medications available for seasonal allergies in kids.

The frequency and severity of allergy symptoms can help determine the best allergy medicine for your child. Talk with your child's pediatrician about the best way to help your child's symptoms. If your child continues to show signs of seasonal allergies, you can visit an allergist to diagnose your child's allergies and develop a treatment plan.

Oral antihistamines

Oral antihistamines work quickly and help children with itchiness and sneezing. Many newer antihistamines, called second-generation antihistamines, only need to be taken once a day and are less likely to make your child sleepy.

Nasal saline sprays

Nasal saline sprays can help flush out your child's nasal passages as needed. Nasal steroid sprays are effective but work best when they're used regularly during the times of year allergy symptoms appear.

Tip: If your child uses nasal sprays, be sure to point the bottle tip toward the outer eye or ear on the same side – not directly upward. Spraying at an angle keeps the medication from running down the back of your child's mouth.

Oral decongestants

Oral decongestants can help with a stuffy nose. But you can't use them for children younger than 4. And you don't want to use them longer than a few days because of possible side effects.

Topical treatments for itchy, swollen or water eyes

Eye drops are an effective allergy treatment for kids to relieve itchy, irritated or watery eyes. Allergy eye drops that contain antihistamines work better than oral medications for eye symptoms.

Artificial tears can also offer relief. Avoid artificial tear eye drops with a vasoconstrictor ingredient, which only reduces redness and doesn't help with other symptoms. If you're not sure about ingredients, ask the pharmacist to go over them with you.

Does local honey help with allergies?

Some people eat local honey to help with seasonal allergy symptoms. The idea is that the honey contains local pollens, and by regularly ingesting these pollens, you may decrease your sensitivity to them. But there's not much evidence to support that local honey helps with seasonal allergies.

"Most of the pollen in honey is pollinated by bees from flowers, not from trees, weeds and grasses, which tend to be the cause of allergy symptoms," explains Dr. Chambliss. "Additionally, the amount of pollen in honey is variable so your exposure may change without knowing it."

Dr. Chambliss cautions that there have been rare reports of people developing serious allergic reactions to honey as well. For most people, honey is not harmful, but it's not likely to offer much benefit. And you can't give honey to a child under 1 year of age.

Can seasonal allergies be cured?

There is no cure for seasonal allergies. But allergy shots are an effective treatment for most children with seasonal allergies – and can provide long-lasting improvements in symptoms.

Allergy shots involve weekly shots over several months, followed by “maintenance shots” for 3-5 years. With continued exposure to known amounts of an allergen, the body starts to change how it responds to the allergen. The result of allergy shots? Your child has few or no symptoms when they're exposed to the allergen in the future.

It's true that allergies can change over time and some kids will outgrow them – usually over the course of many years. Because it's hard to predict which children will outgrow allergies, allergy shots can be a great way to provide relief for kids.

Seasonal allergies affect more than 1 in 5 children in the U.S. You can minimize symptoms by reducing exposure to allergy triggers. See tips from an allergist @Childrens on how to help your child manage seasonal allergies.

Learn more

The allergy specialists at Children's Health provide comprehensive care and support for seasonal allergies in children. Learn more about our Allergy program, services and treatments.

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