With so much on parents’ minds these days like washing everyone’s hands a zillion times and oh…living through a pandemic, it isn’t surprising that you just realized your child’s itchy eyes and runny nose, meaning we are in the throes of allergy season. Oof.
Since we are all venturing outdoors more cautiously and are also inside for the better part of the day — understanding kids’ seasonal allergies is essential. We spoke with Dr. Natasha Burgert, a board-certified pediatrician and a child health advocate, who shared on her expertise on how seasonal allergies affect children.
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Understanding seasonal allergies in children
How do seasonal allergies occur?
The symptoms of seasonal allergies occur when our healthy immune systems start to identify relatively harmless environmental triggers (like mold, pollen, and dog dander) as harmful invaders. Developing this allergy reaction depends on individualized risk factors, such as family history, early exposure to allergen triggers, being born in during allergy season, and early use of antibiotics. Interestingly, developing seasonal allergies requires multiple seasons of exposure. That is why infants are not susceptible to seasonal allergies but may develop symptoms as they age.
What are the tops signs you should look for?
Obvious signs of seasonal allergies include runny and congested nose, itching and watering eyes, sneezing, and cough. More subtle signs include dark circles under the eyes, increased fatigue, inattention, and sleeping problems.
Is there a specific age when they start and or could end?
The distinct pattern of seasonal symptoms can be seen as early as the age of 2 years. Seasonal allergies end when exposure is decreased, or proper therapy is initiated. For most, seasonal allergies are a life-long problem that are easily managed with over the counter products.
How should you deal with them?
If you suspect that your child is suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms, there are safe and effective over the counter products that you can try. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about their preferred products. If over the counter products are not helpful, your child’s pediatrician may consider a referral to an allergist.
What if they go untreated?
Uncontrolled allergies in children have been shown to lead to poor academic performance, worsened athletic performance, low self-esteem, and less quality sleep. During peak season, you may also notice increased inattention when doing schoolwork at home, or your child may seem more fatigued after outside play. If you are seeing any of these symptoms, consider seasonal allergies as a possible cause.
Are all children allergy relief over the counter medicines the same? How can you be sure you choose the right one for your child?
What age can you give them medicine? Nasal steroid sprays help congestion and watery eyes but can take up to a week to work. Some oral allergy treatments can result in undesired drowsiness or “zombie”-like behavior during the waking hours. For fast and effective control of intermittent seasonal allergy symptoms, I recommend long-acting, non-drowsy antihistamines like Children’s Allegra. These medications are recommended for children over the age of 2 years. Available at Target.
Dr. Natasha Burgert is a board-certified pediatrician at Pediatric Associates in Overland Park, KS. The doctor is a nationally recognized child health expert, writer, and mom of two. Her ability to blend parenting experience with evidence-based child health information has also made her a sought-after speaker, spokesperson, and influencer.
In addition to her clinical work, she serves as a National Spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a regular contributor to NBC Learn, US News and World Report, and her local NPR affiliate.
Follow @kckidsdoc on Instagram and Facebook and @DoctorNatasha on Twitter.
This story first appeared on newyorkfamily.com.