As spring finally settles in around us, so does allergy season. Up to 40 percent of children in the United Status suffer from seasonal allergies. If you and/or your partner have allergies, this increases the chance that your child has allergies too. Seasonal allergies are annoying, yet relatively harmless. But when do they stop being harmless? We’ve put together some tips on when you should take your child to an allergist or when it might be more than just allergies.
Seasonal allergies are allergy symptoms that occur during particular times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. When your child is allergic to mold spores or pollen, their immune system treats these allergens as an attack. Their immune system then releases chemicals, including histamine, as a defense which causes allergy symptoms, from itchy eyes to a runny nose.
Seasonal allergies can start at almost any age, even if your child hasn’t had allergies in the past. Usually, they develop by the time your child is 10 and reach their peak in their early twenties.
If you notice your child experiences cold like symptoms around the same time every year, it could be seasonal allergies. These symptoms, which usually appear suddenly and last as long as a person is exposed to a particular allergen, can include:
- Itchy nose and/or throat
- Nasal congestion
- Clear, runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
When To See A Doctor
Most seasonal allergies can be treated with child-specific, over-the-counter antihistamine or allergy medications. However, if your child starts wheezing, struggles to catch their breath or they frequently feel a tightness in their chest, that could be a sign that the allergies have progressed into asthma, and you should make an appointment to see your pediatric provider right away. Other signs that indicate its time to take your child to your pediatric provider:
- If your child is experiencing chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.
- If your child’s symptoms seem to pop up over many different months out of the year
- If antihistamines and over-the-counter medications do not have any affect on your child’s symptoms.
- If allergies or asthma seem to be preventing your child from doing normal, every day activities.
Before your visit with your pediatric provider, be sure to take note of when your child’s symptoms are most prevalent: are they outside or inside? Is it day or night? Look for any patterns—the repetitiveness is the biggest indicator that the symptoms your child may be experiencing are linked to allergies, seasonal or otherwise. Most importantly, a fever is never associated with allergies and is usually a sign of something more serious. With this information, your pediatric provider can better determine if a referral to an allergist is necessary.
Hopefully these tips will help you feel more at ease about seasonal allergies, but you should never hesitate calling or scheduling an appointment with your pediatric provider if you’re concerned with new symptoms your child is experiencing.