Ever wondered if your child has hay fever? Maybe you’ve noticed your little one sneezing a lot and you’re always having to wipe their runny nose. Or it could go the other way; they get blocked up and it’s a struggle to help them blow their nose.
Pollen allergy isn’t just for grown-ups. Kids get it too. Read on to find out how to spot hay fever in children and for tips on what to do next.
You can blame it on pesky pollen. Your child’s immune system mistakes the harmless particles for dangerous intruders and fights back. Cells in their airways release histamine, which makes the lining of the nose swell up. The runny nose we talked about is part of the body’s defenses too; the extra mucus is meant to flush out the pollen. These hay fever symptoms are called allergic rhinitis.
Grasses, trees and weeds release pollen as part of their reproductive cycle. Typically the fine powdery dust is only in the air from early spring, through summer, into fall. Although precise pollen seasons depend on where you live.
That’s why hay fever or pollen allergy is also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It comes and goes. If your child has the same hay fever-like symptoms all year round, it could be a different allergy – maybe to house dust mites or a pet. That’s perennial allergic rhinitis.
Hay fever symptoms in children include:
Young children can get several respiratory infections a year. And since hay fever in children looks a lot like a common cold it can be tricky to tell exactly what’s going on. But some symptoms are distinctive.
|How fast symptoms appear
|Raised temperature or fever
|Itchy nose or eyes
|Color and texture of mucus
|How long the symptoms last
If you notice hay fever symptoms in your child, book an appointment with your health care provider. An early diagnosis is the first step in managing their allergies.
Pollen triggers hay fever so try to limit your child’s exposure to it. Here are some ideas for you to try:
Even once they have a diagnosis, treating hay fever symptoms in children can be tricky, especially if they’re very young. Decongestants, nasal antihistamines and many other medicines for adults may not be suitable for young children.
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But there are some antihistamines and corticosteroid nasal sprays that children can use, depending on their age. You may be able to buy them over the counter at the pharmacy, but always ask your health care provider’s advice first before giving your child allergy medication.
Older children who find standard hay fever medicines aren’t working, might be able to try specialist treatments. Allergy immunotherapy tackles the underlying cause of hay fever through controlled, repeated doses of the substance your child is reacting to. It helps the body build up tolerance. Your health care provider can tell you more about allergy immunotherapy.
Your health care provider is your child’s best friend. Early diagnosis of hay fever means your child will get the best treatment early. They should feel better and sleep better, and be able to enjoy just being a kid.
Your health care provider will also help your child go on managing allergies as they get older. It can change and new triggers and symptoms develop. You can also have several allergies at once. So regular check-ups are important.