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Dr. Christina Johns
Senior Medical Advisor, PM Pediatrics

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Seasonal Allergies + Kids

Spring is here! Flowers and warmer temperatures are on the way, but so are sneezing, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms. Technically, the “season” when allergy symptoms are most heavily reported spans for most of the year, starting around the end of March when the chill leaves the air, and often lasting until the first frost in late fall or early winter. There are SO.MANY.TRIGGERS. Just ask any allergy sufferer. 

Some of the most common seasonal allergens include tree pollen, molds, and ragweed. Tree pollen concentrations are heaviest around March, April, and May whereas certain kinds of molds thrive in warmer temperatures, usually in the summer. Then comes ragweed season which generally starts in mid-to-late August. And, let’s not forget about pet danders and dust mites which can make someone miserable any time at all. 

Allergies can be really tough if not managed correctly, and really the best way to handle them is to control them from getting severe in the first place. To parents and caregivers of children and adolescents with seasonal allergies, my best advice is to start controller allergy medications such as steroid nasal sprays like fluticasone and antihistamines like loratadine early this year. Seasonal allergy controllers work best after about 2 weeks of consistent use. So, for those kids allergic to tree pollen and other related triggers, now is the time to get started on controllers to ensure symptoms remain at bay so children can stay as comfortable as possible. They’ve got to be used every day in order to reap the most benefit. This is a point of confusion for many, who think that if they are starting to notice symptoms that’s the point they should begin the medicines, and only take them while they are feeling allergic.

Another handy reason to start kids on their allergy controllers early this year is to decrease the likelihood you or your child will need to take a COVID-19 test and await the results, potentially taking time away from school and taking you, as a parent, away from work for more time than you’re able. Many allergic symptoms are indistinguishable from those of COVID-19, and a test is the only certain way to tell the difference between them.

If your child is experiencing allergies for the first time ever, definitely bring this up with your pediatrician to discuss therapy options. The onset of allergies is quite unpredictable and no one should suffer unnecessarily when there are treatments that have been proven to work. 

In addition to medicines, I recommend environmental management and symptom support as well, including a cool compress over the eyes to relieve itchiness, saline nasal spray to help soothe nasal congestion, and a nice, end-of-day bath or shower to decrease stuffiness and wash away airborne allergens that could be on the skin and in the hair.  Make sure to remove shoes after being outside and wipe down pets with a damp paper towel, as both of these can track allergens inside. And, as much as opening windows is nice to allow fresh air to come inside, it also allows the allergens in, so keep the windows closed as much as possible.

One more note- in addition to protecting you from viruses and other germs, wearing a high-quality mask can also help mitigate respiratory exposure to allergens and therefore decrease allergy symptoms. Just sayin’.

Stay well and enjoy alllllll the tulips! 

Dr. Christina

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