As spring rolls around, many children begin experiencing nasal stuffiness, sneezing, runny noses and itchy noses, eyes and/or ears. If your child begins to experience any of these symptoms, it is likely that he or she is suffering from seasonal allergies. Otherwise known as hay fever, seasonal allergies can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic status.
When allergies strike, the body reacts to an airborne particle, such as pollen or mold, by releasing histamines and other chemicals. The histamines then inflame the nose and airways, and the chemicals trigger the symptoms of hay fever.
The most common triggers of allergies throughout the spring months are non-flowering trees, grasses and weeds. Examples of trees that may cause allergies include oak, elm and birch, while grasses include timothy, Bermuda and orchard.
Once your child develops seasonal allergies (which can happen as early as age 3), you can expect them to return each year at that time. Allergies cannot be prevented; however, you can prepare for allergy season by learning to control your child’s allergies.
Minimize Exposure to Pollen
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, you can minimize exposure to pollen during the spring and summer months by:
- Staying indoors with the windows shut as much as possible, especially on dry, windy days or when the pollen count is high.
- Driving with the windows closed and the air conditioning on.
- Allergy-proofing your yard by eliminating offending plants and staying off freshly mowed lawns.
- Keeping pets outside, as they can track pollen inside with them. If that is not possible, at least keep them out of your child’s bedroom.
- Changing your child’s clothing after playing outside.
- Taking a bath, or at least washing hands, after playing outside.
- Drying clothing with a vented dryer, NOT on a clothesline outside.
Oral medications can also help relieve the symptoms of spring allergies. The best drug for relieving the nose and eye symptoms of hay fever is an antihistamine. Give the antihistamine at the first sign of sneezing or sniffling for best results. If your child suffers from allergies on a daily basis throughout the season, give the antihistamine each day. However, if your child only experiences occasional symptoms, give the antihistamine only when symptoms are present or the pollen count is expected to be high.
Nicki Nair, M.D., Allergist
The weather starts getting pleasant. People are opening their windows, freshening up their houses. There are people who are sleeping with their windows open, next morning they wake up and they don’t know why their eyes are mattered and swollen and they are sneezing, and I think basically it is just exposure.
There is a lot of spring mold. Spring thaw goes on. People are working outside. There is a lot of mold exposure. There are dead leaves there. There are grass clippings there. People get ready for their gardens. So I think they are exposed to mold right there. Mold is everywhere.
But soils, grasses, dead leaves all of these have mold on them.
A lot of them are complaining of itching and watering and tearing of the eyes. I see this quite often in spring when you have a lot of tree pollen out there. Tree season is normally fairly short except for the oak pollen, which goes on to pollinate until the month of May. Presently we are in April
So we still have a lot of maple pollen, the oak will start pollinating. Oak is a late pollinator. A lot of ash trees are blooming. In the early morning time is the highest pollen count, but then on a windy day that can be all day long because the pollen gets picked up and gets blown across you see. And Nebraska does not lack for wind you don’t have to be sitting next to a tree; it just comes through the air.
How can you limit your exposure?
Well it’s easy to tell someone not to go outside, but would I do it, I am not so sure. You tell them that listen you can expect some symptoms maybe put your eye drops in or take your nose spray and medications before you go out. Wear your sunglasses because that helps. Come home and wash yourself off shower even shampoo because hair collects a lot of pollen.
And try not to sleep with your windows open.