Does my child have spring allergies?

As if the polar vortexes were not enough, it looks like all the snow and late freezes may have set us up for an itchy spring!  In a new CNN Health report (published March 28, 2014) experts are warning us that this may be a tough allergy season.  With late freezes, the pollinating season for trees have been stalled which will result in more pollinating vegetation (with both trees and grasses pollinating at the same time) when the weather breaks.  Typically trees begin their pollinating season in March and finish in April around the time the grasses begin their pollinating season. This year’s season may be abbreviated but will likely be much harsher.

With 10 percent of children (under the age of 17 years) suffering from seasonal allergies (according to 2011 CDC survey), this will affect many of our households!  So if you know that your child has Spring seasonal allergies, this may be the time to start talking with your primary care about treatment to lessen symptoms before they start.  Treatment for allergies ranges from oral antihistamines, local antihistamines (eye drops), and nasal steroids.  Some of these medications, such as nasal steroids, need a few weeks to reach full effect so early start can really diminish suffering later!

If your child has not been diagnosed in the past with spring allergies, here are some warning signs that your child may be suffering:

  • Runny nose for more than 10 days (typically clear, thin mucus but may become thicker with sinusitis from untreated allergy)
  • Itchy nose (the way children wipe their nose upward with allergy itching even has a name “the allergic salute”)
  • Blue/purple darkening of the skin under the eyes (“allergic shiners”)
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Increased sneezing

Trying to avoid medical therapy for your child’s seasonal allergies?

Something as simple as eating local honey on a daily basis may reduce symptoms (children under one year of age should never be given honey due to risk for consuming botulism spores).  In addition, keeping windows and doors closed during high pollen count to limit exposure, bathing before bedtime to wash off any remaining allergens and avoiding outdoor play/work when pollen counts are high can help.

For more tips on how to reduce spring allergies check out another Dr. Mom blog by Dr. Forbis on green cleaning!

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