By GALTime.com Contributor Tamara Walker, MomRN
Sneeze, sneeze, sniffle, sniffle, cough, wipe nose, and repeat. So begins the annual allergy season. Springtime is here and for many kids that means a few months of runny noses, teary eyes, sneezing, and coughing. Springtime allergies are caused by the increased pollen in the air from grass, weeds, trees, and flowers blooming back to life after being dormant all winter. Pollen may help bees make sweet honey, but pollen is anything but sweet for kids who are allergic to it. For allergy sufferers, the body responds to pollen with an overproduction of mucous, itching, and inflammation of the nasal passages and sometimes the lungs.
Springtime allergies can often be mistaken for a late winter cold and parents can have a difficult time distinguishing between the two. But there are some important differences that can help you determine whether your child has a cold or allergies.
Cold symptoms generally include these symptoms:
Runny and/or stuffy nose
Mucous that changes from clear and thin to white, yellow, or green and thick
May have fever, fatigue, and aches and pains
Lasts several days
Allergy symptoms generally include:
Runny and/or stuffy nose
"Allergic salute" - a crease on the bridge of the nose from wiping it frequently
"Allergic shiners" - dark circles or shadows under the eyes
May have mild sore throat, cough, and fatigue
Will not have fever or aches and pains
Lasts for weeks, months, or year round
Treatment options for allergies:
There are many over the counter remedies for allergy symptoms. If you are unsure of the best treatment for your child, it is wise to consult the doctor first for recommendations. Nasal sprays containing pure saline (salt water) can be used frequently to help wash out mucous and to hydrate the nasal passages. Neti pots are also a tool for washing out the nasal passages and can be purchased at most local drug pharmacies without a prescription. Nasal sprays that contain medication (either an antihistamine or a decongestant) should be used with caution and you should always follow the directions and use only for 3 to 5 days depending on which one you choose. Using a nasal spray more often or for a longer duration than recommended can result in a rebound effect which worsens the symptoms significantly. Over the counter antihistamines are also available, including a few non-drowsy formulas. These generally work best if taken on a regular basis as it takes time for the medicine to reach an effective level in the blood stream. Decongestants do not affect histamine levels but can help thin mucous and reduce swelling of the nasal passages. If over the counter medications do not seem to be helping your child enough, visit your pediatrician to get a prescription for stronger symptom relief.
Methods to reduce allergy symptoms:
1. Dust and vacuum frequently to reduce dust mite exposure
2. Limit outdoor activities when the pollen count is high
3. Keep doors and windows closed, especially when pollen counts are high
4. Wash outdoor jackets frequently to remove pollen and other potential allergens
5. Bathe kids at night if they have played outside that day, to removed allergensFor tips 6-9 click here. #7 may surprise you!
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