HCA Virginia Physicians
April 20, 2016

Seasonal Allergies in Children

Spring has arrived! Longer days, sunshine, and blooming flowers and trees all sound great, but for many it also means the dreaded allergy season is upon us. Runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezes; for adults this is usually not too much of a problem as there are many over the counter allergy medications that can help, and there are also some your primary care physician can prescribe when these fail.

But what about our kids?

In people with allergies, the immune system reacts to otherwise harmless particles of dust, mold, pollen, etc, treating it as a foreign invader in the body, setting off a variety of symptoms. In children, these symptoms often include sneezing, runny nose, cough, itchy or red eyes, dark circles under the eyes, sore throat, irritability and fatigue. If your child has seasonal allergies, these symptoms will usually only show up during certain times of the year, usually spring and fall. However, some children can have symptoms year-round and usually the culprits in this situation include household allergens like dust mites, animal dander, and tobacco smoke. Keep in mind, the development of allergies requires repeated exposure to these allergens and is uncommon in children under two years of age. If your child is less than two years of age and has persistent nasal symptoms, please check with your physician so they can rule out other issues and find the best treatment strategy for him or her.

One important tip for children who have seasonal symptoms - start your child on the antihistamine before the allergies start!

In children greater than or equal to 2 years old, there are several over the counter medications available for allergy relief. Antihistamines, including cetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine, all work equally well, and are available in liquid or chewable tablets. These can be used regularly or as needed, two to three hours prior to the exposure. One important tip for children who have seasonal symptoms - start your child on the antihistamine before the allergies start to flair! For instance, if your child has spring allergies every year, start an over the counter antihistamine now to prevent symptoms. Most of these newer antihistamines listed above are non-drowsy and should not affect your child’s activity or energy level. If your child has never tried allergy medications in the past, always discuss appropriate dosing with your physician before administering any medication. For more severe or persistent cases, there are additional medications your physician can prescribe that may help.

As a parent, you often know what triggers your child’s allergies and avoidance can be the key to preventing them. There are some things you can do around your house to minimize the amount of allergens in the air. Keeping the windows closed, cleaning often, taking shoes off before entering the house, and washing clothes regularly can all help to cut down on the pollen exposure when indoors. In some severe cases, a referral to a pediatric allergist may be necessary in order to pinpoint the offending agents. It’s great to know that most allergy sufferers, kids and adults, can have their symptoms easily managed, so they can enjoy this time of year and all the outdoor activities. No need to miss the next festival, baseball or soccer game. Break out the flip-flops and make sure you talk with your physician about the best course of action against allergies for you and your children.

For further inquiries about allergies, asthma, or other chronic respiratory symptoms, contact Kerry Eley, MD, of Primary Health Group - Appomattox, at (804) 504-8025.

Book An Appointment Online Now with Dr. Eley