Spring is in full swing, and if the new season has brought on sneezes from your son or daughter, he or she might be showing signs of an allergic flare-up due to seasonal allergies.
Also known as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies impact 6.1 million children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
And here in Michigan, where the weather fluctuates between four seasons, it’s not uncommon for children to suffer from seasonal allergies, says Dr. Neethi Patel, a pediatrician at Shelby Pediatric Associates and Child Lung Center, located in Shelby Township and Troy.
“Spring comes, the trees bloom and all of a sudden the kids are sneezing and have runny eyes,” Dr. Patel says.
It’s important to identify these seasonal triggers in your child so that proper treatment can be put in place to avoid developing other health issues.
“Allergies are kind of like Lego blocks. They can stack on top of each other and create a bigger issue,” Dr. Patel explains. “Even if your kid is not having terrible symptoms, sometimes the symptoms can be subtle, and those things can be stacking on top of each other when a new season comes.”
A child might have a mild allergy to grass and a mild allergy to dust, but when you combine those two together, it can bring about a terrible allergy season for that child.
If you think your child is showing signs of seasonal allergies, read on for insight and advice from Dr. Patel.
Signs of allergies
Perhaps it’s an allergy to pollen or grass seed that’s wreaked havoc on your child’s system this season. No matter what the cause, there are some common signs to look for. Watery eyes, itchy eyes, chronic congestion, eczema, runny nose and sneezing are signs of allergic reactions. In some cases, a chronic cough that persists, but the child does not act ill, is a sign. And for kids who can’t seem to shake their cold, this could be a sign of this chronic issue.
Signs of allergies tend to show themselves in children age 1 and older, Dr. Patel notes. “They need to be around long enough to be exposed to things to then develop an allergy.”
Treatment and prevention
Many times allergies can go undiagnosed, Dr. Patel says, because the symptoms tend to fill in between colds and viruses. For this reason, many parents assume that the symptoms are just a result of the child’s illness and they may not recognize them as allergies.
But it’s important to take note of these symptoms, which can lead to a child developing additional health complications including sinus, lung and ear infections, migraines and asthma, to name a few. Parents should track their child’s symptoms and discuss them with his or her pediatrician at their next visit.
Once you have a plan of treatment, be sure to treat the allergy year-round – throughout the different seasons. Oftentimes, Dr. Patel says, parents will use medication on an as-needed basis instead of as a way to control the symptom before it hits. If you know your child’s allergies flare up in the fall, for example, he or she should be taking allergy medication as a preventative measure prior to the season.
For children with seasonal spring allergies, Dr. Patel suggests closing windows while sleeping if outdoor allergies are a factor. If pets are a trigger, avoid letting them sleep in your child’s bedroom and for kids who are allergic to dust, avoid having stuffed animals in their bed.
For more information on Shelby Pediatric Associates and Child Lung Center, visit shelbypediatricassociates.com.