It’s that time of the year again. Pollen counts are high, and those with seasonal allergies stock up on tissues and allergy meds in preparation for the next few months of suffering. If you’re the parent of a child, you no doubt hate to see your little one having to endure the annoying, uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms.
Children who struggle with seasonal allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis and hay fever) typically experience symptoms during the months of March through October, though for most, these problems don’t last for this entire timespan. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny and/or stuffy nose, postnasal drip, coughing, a sore throat and itchy, red eyes that can be either dry or teary. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says children can also experience chronic ear issues.
In addition, seasonal allergies can interfere with a child’s sleep pattern as a result of the discomfort plaguing them during the night. The lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, poor concentration and behavioral issues, as reported by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
However, there are things parents can do to manage their children’s seasonal allergies and help them find relief. Here are five ways to keep symptoms under control.
Improve your home’s air quality
To keep pollen out, keep the windows in your home closed. On warm days, use fans or air conditioning instead. Utilize an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your child’s room to clean the air and remove any pollen that might have found its way inside. It is also a good idea to use a filter in your home’s heating and cooling system.
Avoid pollen as much as possible
You may want to keep your child inside when pollen counts are high. If they do go out, have them take a shower or bath when they go back inside. You can check daily pollen counts at the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau.
Keep things moist
With the loss of fluids from runny noses and eyes, it’s important to make sure your child is drinking enough water frequently to avoid becoming dehydrated. Warm tea is another option as it will help soothe a sore throat and open congested sinuses.
According to Brunilda Nazario, MD, Chief Physician Editor, Medical Affairs, at WebMD, keeping the air moist can make breathing easier. She recommends using a humidifier, making sure not to allow the humidity level to go beyond 40%, as this “can encourage the growth of indoor allergens like mold and dust mites.”
Allowing your child to sit in the bathroom as the warm shower runs is an easy way to replicate the effects of a humidifier. The steam helps relieve congestion. Irrigating your child’s nasal passages with a saline solution is another way to unclog their nose.
Try a compress
Depending on your child’s symptoms, they may find relief from a warm or cold compress. A warm compress can reduce sinus pain and pressure, while a cold compress can help soothe sore, itchy eyes.
Talk to your doctor
Ongoing allergy symptoms can be very bothersome for children and interfere with various aspects of their lives. If you are considering medication, your pediatrician will be able to discuss options and help you find one right for your child.
Even when taking over-the-counter medicines, Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor of Harvard Health Publishing, recommends talking to your doctor, who may suggest a different dosage or a different way to use the drug.