TrustCare | Kids Allergies and Allergy Medicine

Kids Allergies and Allergy Medicine

in Allergies/Sinus Blog TrustCare Kids

If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, you probably already know what’s coming. A runny or stuffy nose, constant sneezing, watery eyes, and other symptoms that make them miserable. Missed school days. Being stuck indoors instead of enjoying outdoor activities. Seasonal allergies can have a major impact on your child’s life – and yours as a parent.

Identifying your child’s allergies as early as possible and getting them on the right medicine is key. It’s impossible to control absolutely everything your child is exposed to, which makes understanding their allergies and what medicine they need even more important.

Any Child Can Develop Allergies

First, know that you are not alone. Nearly one of every five children in the United States has a seasonal allergy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any child can develop allergies, but they are more common in children whose family members also have a history of allergies.

Most children are magnets for colds – but when the sneezing and sniffles last for weeks, the culprit could be allergies.

What (and When) Are Seasonal Allergies?

Like other types of allergies, seasonal allergies develop when your child’s immune system overreacts to a specific allergen. The immune system responds to the invading allergen by releasing histamine and other chemicals that trigger symptoms in your child’s nose, lungs, sinuses, throat, eyes, ears, skin, or stomach lining.

Most people associate seasonal allergies with springtime, but they can strike at various times throughout the year. Flower and tree pollen frequently cause seasonal allergies in the spring. Grass pollen begins in late spring and peaks during the summer, while weed pollen (such as ragweed) and mold spores are most active in late summer and fall.

By contrast, environmental allergies (such as dust mites and animal dander) do not vary by season and are typically present for longer periods or year-round.

How Allergies Affect Kids – and Why Early Treatment Matters

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is the most common ailment caused by seasonal allergies in children. Allergic rhinitis – also known as “hay fever” (even though it isn’t triggered by hay and doesn’t cause a fever) – is an allergic reaction that can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Nasal congestion

A child with allergic rhinitis may also have red, itchy, and/or watery eyes and experience chronic ear problems.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are extremely common in children. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday.

Because allergies cause inflammation in the ear, excess fluid can easily accumulate there, leading to ear infections and other ear issues, including:

  • Ear pain
  • Ear popping
  • Ear fullness (when the ear feels stopped up)
  • Ear itching
  • Difficulty hearing

A child whose hearing is impaired for any reason while they learn to talk can develop poor speech, making it critical to seek treatment promptly.

Chronic Nasal Congestion

If your child has a stuffy nose, allergies are most frequently to blame. Sometimes, your child’s nose can get congested to the point where they begin to breathe through their mouth, especially while sleeping.

If nasal congestion and mouth breathing are left untreated, the way your child’s teeth and facial bones grow can be negatively affected. They also may not sleep well at night, leading to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating at school. Again, early allergy treatment can help prevent these problems.

Avoiding Allergy Triggers

Here are some ways to avoid the seasonal allergy triggers that affect children and adults alike. Some of the most common triggers include tree, grass, and weed pollens, as well as mold.

You can help your child breathe easier during allergy season by:

  • Keeping windows closed in your car and home
  • Running your air conditioner continuously to clean the air
  • Educating yourself about pollen activity (grass pollen levels are highest in the evening during spring, while ragweed pollen levels are highest in the morning during fall)
  • Staying indoors when pollen counts are too high
  • Not allowing your child to play in moist outdoor areas where mold can grow
  • Avoiding fields of tall grass

Available Allergy Medicines

If your child needs allergy medicine, there are several available options.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

For most kids, allergy symptoms can be controlled by avoiding the allergen (if known) and using over-the-counter medicines, such as antihistamines, in oral or nasal spray form. Examples include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra).

Children are more sensitive than adults to many drugs. For instance, some antihistamines can have adverse effects at lower doses on young patients, causing excessive drowsiness or hyperactivity.

Although some allergy medicines are approved for use in children as young as six months, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that medicines intended for children are not necessarily safe for children of all ages. Always check the label or ask your pediatrician to be sure the medicine is safe for your child’s age.

Prescription Medicines

Children who don’t respond to over-the-counter medicines or suffer from frequent allergic rhinitis may be candidates for prescription medicines. Examples of prescription-strength antihistamines include desloratadine (Clarinex), hydroxyzine (Atarax/Vistaril), and azelastine (Astelin/Astepro) nasal sprays.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots increase your child’s resistance to specific allergens by introducing small doses of the allergens into their bloodstream. The doses are increased slowly over time to help build up your child’s natural immunity to the allergens. All shots must be administered in a doctor’s office.

Get Allergy Answers at TrustCare Kids

How do seasonal allergies affect your child’s health? Does your child need prescription medicine for their allergies? Or will over-the-counter options be enough? You don’t have to answer questions like these on your own – TrustCare Kids takes the guesswork out of your child’s allergy care.

TrustCare Kids offers pediatric primary care by appointment and urgent care on a walk-in basis, with clinics that are open late and on weekends to serve you. To learn more about allergy treatments, contact TrustCare Kids today.

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