Have you seen it, that yellow film on your freshly washed car? The dreaded spring pollen has arrived! Even if you haven’t SEEN it yet, the Georgia pollen counts are extremely high. Spring time allergies are almost exclusively caused by tree pollen. Georgia’s top contributors are Oak, Pine, Sweet Gum, Juniper and Cottonwood. Not sure if you have an allergy to these trees? Let’s talk about it
Allergic Rhinitis or Hay Fever, as it is commonly called, can cause a myriad of symptoms for about 30% of the population, including children. Most children need to be exposed to 1-2 seasons of pollen before they develop any type of immune response. If your child is under 2 years old, their symptoms are unlikely to be secondary to seasonal allergies. Signs of these seasonal allergies include clear runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and nose, cough, congestion, and scratchy/tickle throat. These symptoms are not accompanied by fever or significant fatigue. For most children, these symptoms are mild and easily managed. We can usually tell in the office with history and examination if your child is suffering from seasonal allergies or an upper respiratory infection, so if you’re unsure, we would be happy to see them!
So, we decided that maybe your child does have allergy symptoms, what can we do about it? How do we treat these bothersome symptoms? We can easily treat them with some lifestyle modifications and some over-the-counter allergy medications (in most cases). We recommend making sure at the end of the day, after being outside, you shower before bedtime and have clean sheets and pillows, to avoid carrying the pollen into the home and extending the exposure. We also recommend second generation antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra. These over the counter anti-histamines are non-drowsy and provide daily relief of some allergy symptoms. One of the most effective treatments includes glucocorticoid nasal sprays (such as Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort, etc.). Most of these nasal sprays are safe in kids over the age of 2, but please check product labeling for specific ages and instructions. If your eyes are the most bothersome symptom, sometimes eye drops can be more helpful than the antihistamines and nasal sprays. Look for allergy eye drops that contain ketotifin (Zaditor, Alaway, Children’s Alaway, etc.) and follow the label’s instructions.
If you’ve tried these lifestyle modifications and over the counter medications and your child is still suffering from bothersome symptoms, we recommend a visit to our office! Some children have more complex allergies and require more interventions to relieve their symptoms.
Some great resources: