Spring Focus - Allergies in kids (Allergic Rhinitis)
This spring season our focus is allergies – specifically in kids.
Allergic Rhinitis, or hay fever, is a common problem in infants and children. Most common symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, sore throat, throat clearing and a cough that may be worse at night and in the morning.
These symptoms usually occur during certain times of the year for people with seasonal allergies, corresponding to being exposed to outdoor allergens, such as tree pollens, grasses and weeds.
Others may have perennial allergies, with un-comfort occurring year round from exposure to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pets, second hand smoke and molds.
Kids suffering from Allergic Rhinitis show other symptoms such as:
- 'Allergic salute,' a common habit of children which consists of rubbing their nose upward. This is usually because the nose is itchy and this practice can lead to a small crease in the skin of the lower part of the nose.
- 'Allergic shiners,' which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion.
Allergic Rhinitis does tend to run in certain families and is more common in children that have asthma or eczema. It is also more common in children that are exposed to second hand smoke, air pollution and pets.
Having uncontrolled allergies can put your child at risk for getting a secondary sinus infection, ear infections and can make asthma symptoms worse.
These steps help to control common allergens, including dust mites, mold, animal dander and pollens.
1) Get rid of dust collectors, including heavy drapes, upholstered furniture, & stuffed animals.
2) Keep indoor humidity low, since dust mites and mold increase in high humidity.
3) Use an airtight, allergy-proof plastic cover on all mattresses, pillows and box springs.
4) Wash all bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every 7-14 days.
If you must keep pets in the house, try to keep them out of your child's bedroom and wash your pet each week to remove surface allergens.
5) Avoid exposing your child to molds by keeping him away from damp basements or water-damaged areas of your home (check under carpets).
Remove carpeting if possible.
6) Vacuum frequently (when your child is not in the room, since many of the things that cause allergies are small enough to go back out of the vacuum cleaner bag).
7) Cover air vents with filters.
8) Avoid the use of ceiling fans.
9) For seasonal allergies, keep windows closed in the car and home to avoid exposure to pollens and limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest (early morning for spring time tree pollens, afternoon and early evening for summer grasses, and in the middle of the day for ragweed in the fall)
10) Consider using a HEPA filter to control airborne allergens (these only work if what you are allergic to is airborne, which doesn't include dust mites and mold).
11) Provide a smoke-free environment for your child (it is not enough to simply smoke outside).
Although food allergies as a trigger for a runny nose, is not common, you should avoid foods that seem to worsen your child's allergy symptoms upon exposure. The most common foods that can trigger such reactions include: milk, eggs (especially egg yolks), peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts, seafood, and wheat.
Medications used to control the symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis include decongestants, antihistamines and steroids. If symptoms are mild, you can use over the counter medications as needed. Avoid using topical decongestants (such as Afrin) for more than 3-5 days at a time or frequent use of over-the-counter allergy medicines with antihistamines, as they can cause drowsiness.
Allergy medications include the newer, non-sedating antihistamines, such as Allergra, Claritin, Clarinex and Zyrtec (usual dose is 1-2 teaspoons or 1 pill once a day) which are all available over-the-counter. Prescription allergy medications include topical steroids such as Nasonex, Flonase, and Nasacort (usual dose is 1-2 squirts in each nostril once each day).
Singulair is another medicine for kids with allergies. Although previously used only as a preventative medication for kids with asthma, it is now also approved to treat allergies. It is available as a chewable tablet and is approved for kids over age 1.
To be effective, your child should be using these medications every day. They will not work as well if just used on an as needed basis. They are, in general, safe to use with few side effects, but the nasal steroids have been associated with growth suppression when used in high doses. This is however rare, and your pediatrician will monitor your child's growth to make sure this does not happen.
If your child's symptoms are not improving with the combination of antihistamine and steroid, then your doctor may recommend a decongestant, such as Sudafed, AH-CHEW D, or as a combination (Claritin D).
For seasonal allergies, it is best to start using these medications just before your child's season begins and then continue the medicines every day all through the season. For perennial allergies, your child may need to take these medicines year round.
Your child may also benefit from nasal irrigations using saline nose drops 1-3 times a day. This will help the sinuses drain.
Spring is right around the corner! And you know your children and their allergies the best. So be prepared for those seasonal and perennial allergies through prevention of allergens around your homes and ensure their comfort through medications if needed!
Disclaimer: Any information posted on our website is intended for general informational purposes only. This is not medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is for reference only and should not be used as specific instructions or used as a guide for self-medication. This information does not substitute for medical attention. For appropriate care, you should seek your health-care professional for medical advice and treatment. For immediate attention, you should contact 911 or local emergency services. Smile Pharmacy is not responsible for any claim, loss, or damage resulting from your use of this site or resources accessible through this site.