Fact Sheets : Seasonal Allergies in Children
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Spring and summer months bring along with the nice weather, seasonal allergies.
Children can also suffer from hay fever.
Here are some tips and facts about seasonal allergies:
The tendency to develop allergies is hereditary, in other words, tends to
run in families. If both parents have allergies, there is a 75- 80% chance that
their children will develop allergies. If one parent is allergic, then the chance
of an allergy developing in his/her child is about 40%.
Usually children develop seasonal allergies after 5-6 years of age. Before
that, the most common sign of allergy is asthma, which begins most frequently
between the ages of 1-3 years.
The symptoms of summer/seasonal allergy can be broken down into three main
1. Nasal: runny or stuffy nose, itchy nose, itchy palate(the top of the mouth),
2. Eye symptoms: redness, itchy and/or runny eyes. Sometimes these symptoms make
a child very uncomfortable.
3. Asthma: symptoms include wheezing, cough and/or difficulty breathing.
Nasal allergies and asthma are related in two ways. One is that they are caused
or triggered by the same allergens or irritants. Second, symptoms of nasal allergies
actually make asthma symptoms harder to control. Contrary to the term "Hay fever",
fever is NOT a symptom of seasonal allergies.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies
The most common pollens causing spring/summertime allergies include:
Tree pollens (APRIL-JUNE): Maple, Ash, Oak, Elm, Birch and Cedar. When they
pollinate depends on the area in which you live.
Grasses (JUNE-JULY): Kentucky Blue grass, Rye, Orchard and Timothy. Grass
allergies are worsened when the grass (lawn) is mowed.
Ragweed (MID-AUGUST-OCTOBER): Ragweed pollen is such an important cause of
seasonal allergies that many municipalities have laws that make it illegal to
allow these weeds in gardens, backyards and open fields, Interestingly, some
regions are less affected than others; The west coast does not have any ragweed.
Approaching Seasonal Allergies
During the summer months, pollen levels fluctuate from day to day, but seem
to be higher during hot humid days. Pollen index levels are readily available
on TV, radio and newspapers.
Keeping all doors and windows closed as much as possible during the pollen
season will prevent the pollen from entering the home.
During the pollen season avoid hanging the laundry outside to dry as the dried
clothing or bedding will carry pollen indoors.
Air conditioners help this as they can filter out the pollen. Additionally
windows need to be closed during air conditioner use.
The only way to determine whether a child has a seasonal allergy and to which
specific pollen he or she is allergic to is a skin prick allergy test or a special
blood test called RAST. Identifying exactly what a child is allergic to can
help us better prepare for the seasonal allergy period(s). Knowing which pollens
an asthmatic child is allergic to can help parents better prepare for the summer
allergy season by starting preventative medications just before the particular
pollen starts to become airborne in high concentrations.
Treating Seasonal Allergies
When using allergy medications parents should be aware that these treat the
symptoms and not the cause of the allergy in their children. The best approach
is to identify and then avoid what a child is specifically allergic to.
Antihistamine medications given by mouth as needed can help certain children
with allergic symptoms.While the older antihistamines caused sleepiness, the
newer ones tend not to. It is a good idea to avoid antihistamines that make
a child drowsy or sleepy during the day.
Today specific "anti-allergic' eye drops containing anti-histamines can help
relieve eye symptoms.
Inhaled nasal preparations (pumps) containing steroids are considered to be
safe and effective in children who suffer from nasal allergies. These medications
are effective if used regularly for a period of time. Using inhaled nasal steroids
on and off irregularly is not very effective.
Over the counter nasal decongestant sprays are generally not recommended in
children. In fact prolonged use of these medications may actually make matters
Asthma symptoms brought on by seasonal pollens are treated with the appropriate
asthma medications as they will not respond to the antihistamine (anti-allergic)
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For more child health and wellness information on-line, visit http://www.drpaul.com
Pediatrician DR.PAUL Roumeliotis is certified by the American
Board of Pediatrics and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
The information provided on this fact sheet is designed to be an educational
aid only. It is not intended to replace the advice and care of your child's
physician, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
If you suspect that your child has a medical condition always consult a physician.
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