Yes, spring is finally here … I always look forward to this season. You can see the grass turn green, flowers starting to bloom. Ah, fresh air. But for some people it may be a season that brings misery. Seasonal allergies are common at this time of the year. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 40 million Americans suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies. Unfortunately, kids can suffer from seasonal allergies as well. In fact, if a parent has allergies, the risk is higher for the child to develop them. I guess my kids can blame my wife and me for theirs.
What are the symptoms? Sneezing, clear nasal discharge and itchy eyes, are typical complaints. Sometimes a pattern of chronic colds may occur at the same time of the year as well. Other complaints may include throat clearing, stuffy nose, itchy nose and throat. In some individuals, a cough may be present. Children with allergies may have dark circles under their eyes, called “allergic shiners.” And everyone has seen the classic “allergic salute.” My son can demonstrate this very well. (It’s the process of itching or rubbing the nose upward with their palm.) Untreated allergies may also affect a child’s sleep patterns as well, which in turn, may affect their school or sports performance.
Sometimes the symptoms of a cold may be mistaken for allergies and vice versa. But, duration, fevers, color of discharge, as well as other symptoms can be used to differentiate between the two. For example, a fever may accompany a cold, but you would not expect that with seasonal allergies. If you are not certain, my advice would be to discuss this with your child’s doctor.
· Limit the time spent outside or during the peak times of pollen count
· Change clothes and wash your child’s hair after they play outside
· Keep the windows closed, or turn the air conditioner on (assuming it’s warm outside)
· Tree pollen counts may be high early in the morning during spring. During the summer, try to avoid the afternoons or early evening, to avoid grass pollen. Ragweed allergy is prevalent in the fall season and high during midday.
Medications: There are many medications to treat allergies, ranging from over the counter anti-histamines to prescription nasal sprays and medications. I’m certain you have seen the commercials. The variety of medications in the pharmacy can be quite overwhelming. My advice would be to talk to your child’s doctor. You want to make certain the symptoms are consistent with seasonal allergies and not any other condition, and you also want to make sure they are age-appropriate. Allergy medications and homeopathic remedies may also have side-effects that can cause drug interaction, serious and dangerous side-effects and cause injury.
I hope that you and your family are able to enjoy this vibrant time of year.
Viren Bavishi, D.O.
2275 Deming Way, Suite 220
Middleton, WI 53562