Tips for Managing Your Child’s Allergies
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Dr. William E. Berger, a Parents advisor and one of the nation’s foremost experts on allergies and asthma. He is also a board-certified physician in two separate specialties (Pediatrics and Allergy and Immunology) and a member of the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters that writes the national treatment guidelines for asthma and allergies.
A sure sign of spring in the many parts of the country are news reports about high pollen counts. And this year’s relatively mild winter nationwide has triggered an unusually early release of tree pollen, suggesting that this could potentially be the worst allergy season in a decade.
As many as 30% of children suffer from seasonal allergies — prompting the seemingly endless sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and stuffy noses. Allergies can also lead to congestion, prompting more kids to develop colds, flu and sinus infections. Antibiotics are often prescribed, but they have shown to be ineffective at combatting such viral infections. Follow these tips to manage your child’s allergies:
Make an appointment early. If your child seems prone to allergies, see the pediatrician before allergy season to get tested. By knowing what your kid is allergic to will help determine how soon she should start allergy medications and ensure the products have the greatest effect.
Stay hydrated. Water also helps thin mucus build up, making it easier to expel and relieve congestion.
Use a natural decongestant. Steam can have a profound effect on allergy and cold symptoms, but historically, it has posed some challenges. Humidifier tanks are prone to mold and bacteria growth and Neti pots and nasal rinses can be generally unpleasant. Instead use a handheld steam inhaler like MyPurMist – warm mist soothes irritated tissues in the nose and throat, calming coughs, opening nasal passages, and reducing dryness.
Keep allergens out. Set your central air conditioning unit on recirculate and keep windows and doors shut to limit the pollen and mold entering your home.
Plan playtime. Kids enjoy playing outside, so let them! But do a little planning – pollen.com provides reliable zip code-specific pollen forecasts. When pollen or mold counts are high, consider using allergy medication as a preventive measure or limiting outdoor play to late afternoon. Most pollen is dispersed in the early morning and travels best on warm, dry, breezy days. It tends to peaks in urban areas around midday. Pollen counts are lowest during chilly, wet periods.
Consult your pediatrician again. If symptoms persis, the doctor can refer you to an allergist, who can confirm your child’s allergens and to see if it’s necessary to start allergy shots.
Visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for the nation’s top allergy capitals.
Read more about allergies on Parents.com