|: Children can suffer from seasonal allergies
DEAR DR.PAUL: I was surprised to find out that children
can get hay fever. Is this true?
PEDIATRICIAN DR.PAUL Answers: The short answer to your
question is yes. Children can have hay fever, or more specifically,
seasonal allergies. But there's more to the answer than that.
Let me explain.
We now know that allergies, asthma and eczema are inherited
as a group. This type of allergic tendency is referred to as
an atopic tendency. Once a child is born with this tendency,
we know that he has a higher chance of developing any one or
more of the following: asthma, respiratory allergies, food allergies,
eczema and other allergic skin rashes such as hives or urticaria.
Some children will exhibit one condition, while others may exhibit
a few, and still others may exhibit all of these conditions
at one time or another. Typically eczema and food allergies
start at a young age, as does asthma. Respiratory allergies
such as allergic rhinitis, (chronically stuffy or runny nose)
is another allergy we see in children.
Because most children are exposed to indoor irritants during
a high proportion of their first few years of life, we tend
to see symptoms related to indoor alleges - such as stuffy nose
and asthma. These are usually worse during the winter, but less
severe during the summer months. As children get older we see
a kind of shift in the pattern: they are better during the winter
but show seasonal symptoms, usually in the spring, summer and
fall. Not all children follow this same pattern. Some younger
children, although infrequently, can have seasonal symptoms.
More typically though, others will only develop seasonal allergies
later on in life, even in adulthood.
Frankly, we do not really understand this variability. Some
people have allergic tendency, and show little or no symptoms
while others will have a whole host of symptoms.
Seasonal allergies basically mean allergic symptoms that occur
based on a seasonal variation. The most common symptoms are
related to the nose and eyes. These include stuffy, runny or
itchy nose, itchy throat, and itchy and/or runny eyes. In rarer
cases, a child may have a cough as the only symptom, while others
may actually have asthma symptoms which include wheezing and
difficulty breathing during the "Pollen Season".
The three main pollen groups are the tree pollens (May-June).
Grass pollen (June-July), and ragweed pollen (Aug-Oct).
This is why some children seem to have symptoms during the change
of a season. For example, in spring-summer, tree pollens are
high. During late summer and into the fall period, ragweed is
elevated. Discovering which specific pollen one is allergic
to through allergy teasing helps us better prepare for a particular
For example, preventative medications and other avoidance measures
(such as keeping the windows closed in the morning to avoid
pollen from entering the house) can be started just at the onset
of the specific pollen season.
So if a child, regardless age, has symptoms that recur at the
same time of the year (particularly during the summer-fall period)
seasonal allergies are a probably the cause.
The information provided in this site 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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