Rough Allergy Season Is Here For Babies & Toddlers TooKatlyn Joy |30, April 2014
Experts are predicting a particularly harsh spring and summer for those with allergies and asthma this year. According to physicians, one explanation is the tough winter most of the country experienced, with a delay in blooming season for some plants due to extended freezing seasons.
In essence, while blooming usually comes in stages, first trees, then grasses, this year the trees and grasses are blooming simultaneously meaning a virtual pollen explosion.
"People who may have both tree allergies and grass allergies are probably going be doubly impacted, because both of those things are going to be blooming at the same time," said pediatrician Dr. Lolita McDavid, who is employed at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.
And if it seems that for the past few years, we've been given dire warnings about the upcoming allergy season, it's true.
"The allergy seasons seem to be getting intense in the last few years. We are not quite sure why," McDavid said. "We don't know if it's the climate change. It may be."
Determining factors on the severity of an allergy season include temperatures. Low temperatures delay blossoming of different plants. Also, precipitation plays a role. The country experienced higher levels of precipitation in the last few months, most notably in March. Besides rain and humid conditions, snow melt adds to the picture, boosting mold levels. Mold is another big player in seasonal allergies.
That explains the set up for a difficult spring for asthma and allergy sufferers, but what can parents do to lessen the impact on their young children?
Ways to Combat Spring Allergies
According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 20 percent of children have allergies and this is a major cause of missed days of school. For children, boys under 10 are most susceptible, while in 10 to 20 year-olds, girls are the most likely to suffer.
Seasonal allergies are more troublesome to avoid, unless you live in a bubble. However, there are some steps you can take to somewhat alleviate the worst of the symptoms.
- Keep your windows closed and run your air conditioning and house fans.
- When coming inside after being outdoors, change your clothing and put them in the laundry, and shower. Wash your hair. Otherwise, you will carry the pollen inside with you, spread it in the home and get pollen on blankets and pillows, for instance.
- If allergy medicine causes drowsiness in your child, give it before bedtime.
- Get a nasal wash and teach your child to use it properly. Nasal washes can rinse away allergens and decrease symptoms if used regularly.
- Understand that rainy days may cause more allergy symptoms, so prepare for an upswing in symptoms on those days or immediately after rainy weather.
- Timing is important. Besides avoiding rainy days, or medicating for them, you can avoid exposure as much as possible on days when pollen counts are highest for things your child is allergic to. This of course requires skin testing for specific allergens. If your child is allergic to oak, you can check the forecast and limit outdoor time on those high oak pollen days. Also, should weather be dry and windy, avoid afternoon exposure when counts will be at their zenith.
Medications for Allergies
Today there are a variety of medications available even for younger children to treat seasonal allergies.
Saline nose wash or nose spray.
This is easily obtained, affordable and non-toxic. You can use this without the worries of overmedicating. It can also help prevent nosebleeds from the dryness that can occur with antihistamine use or nasal allergy medications.
These medications come in a variety of types, and some are taken every few hours while others are administered once daily. Some can cause drowsiness or even grumpiness, so be sure to ask about side effects at your pediatrician visit. Many are available over the counter, but you should still seek a doctor's advice on what to use in your child. During high allergy season, consider a daily pill to help keep your child as symptom-free as possible.
Some doctors may choose to use additional medications to keep your child as comfortable as possible. These include nasal steroid sprays, montelukast and anti-inflammatory drugs.
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