Spring is a lovely time of year, but it is also considered to be a breeding ground for seasonal allergies. As plants release pollen, millions of people begin to sniffle and sneeze. Individuals can then start to experience symptoms of congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, and an irritated throat. If your child experiences difficulty breathing or nasal congestion during certain points of the year, he or she may have seasonal allergies. Read on for more information on how parents can identify and treat seasonal allergies in their child.
Difference Between Cold and Allergies
Because of the similarity in symptoms, allergies can often be misconstrued as the common cold. The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system, which is the nose and throat, and is usually considered to be harmless. Cold symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and loss of smell. People may also experience chills, fatigue, or fever. If your child gets similar symptoms at or around the same time every year, it’s likely that seasonal allergies are the culprit, which occur when pollen counts are high. Allergies are a major cause of illness in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans, and are responsible for close to 2 million missed school days each year.
What is Asthma and Its Relationship with Allergies?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, causing recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. More than 17 million Americans have asthma, and about one-fourth of these individuals are younger than 18 years old. Seventy to eighty percent of school-aged children with asthma also possess allergies, which are among the most common triggers for asthma. Certain things that cause asthma attacks include house dust mites, animal dander, infections of the airways, and irritants in the environment.
Common Allergy Triggers in Children
An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to something that’s considered harmless to most people. The following are popular allergy triggers in children:
- Outdoors: Tree pollen, plant pollen, grass, insect bites or stings
- Indoors: Pet or animal hair or fur, dust mites, mold
- Irritants: Cigarette smoke, perfume, car exhaust
Common Allergy Symptoms in Children
A child with allergies may have itchy, watery, red eyes; and chronic ear problems. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, coughing, skin rashes or hives, and frequent stomachaches. Children that have wheezing and shortness of breath in addition to these symptoms might have allergies that trigger asthma.
What to Do if You Think Your Child Has Allergies
Seasonal allergies are easy to pinpoint because the pattern of symptoms returns from year to year, and the tendency to develop them is considered to be hereditary. Consult with your child’s pediatrician if you believe that he or she might have allergies. During the visit, the doctor will inquire about symptoms and when they appear. Depending on your answers and a physical exam, he or she should be able to make a diagnosis. If the doctor is unable to identify a cause, he or she might refer you to an allergist for blood tests or allergy skin tests.
Ways to Manage Your Child’s Seasonal Allergies:
Once your child has been diagnosed with a seasonal allergy, parents need to make adjustments to their household and living style to alleviate the risk. The following steps help minimize flare-ups.
- Reduce Exposure to Seasonal Allergy Triggers: Check the pollen forecast for your region prior to heading outdoors.
- Avoid Bringing Outdoor Allergens into Your Home: Run your air-conditioner on warm fall days instead of using window fans that can keep allergens indoors. Keep your windows closed on days when pollen counts are high or if it’s windy outside.
- Clean Your Home on a Regular Basis: Even if you take steps to keep pollen and other outdoor allergens out of your home, some of it can still make its way inside and trigger symptoms. Make sure to vacuum your rugs and other upholstered furniture more frequently during allergy season.
- Change Your Clothing: Children should change their clothing once they come back indoors. This helps prevent the spread of pollen and mold spores inside your home.
Communicate with Your Child’s Nanny, Daycare, School, or Camp
- Minimizing your child’s exposure to allergy triggers is a team effort since parents cannot always be around to protect their child. Instead, guardians should take care to communicate with other childcare professionals in the child’s life.
Keep All of Your Child’s Caregivers Up to Date:
- It’s important to educate caregivers, teachers, and other school professionals about specific allergies your child might possess. Every child’s situation is different, so try to arrange a parent-teacher conference prior to the start of each school year. Even if your son or daughter will attend the same daycare, camp, or school, allergy information will not necessarily be passed along to a new teacher. During the meeting, provide background resources that they may need, bring along a detailed list of things that could set off your child’s allergy, and discuss the ways in which your child might describe having an allergic reaction. Parents should also ask about what measures the school takes to reduce seasonal allergies.
Pre-Daycare or Pre-Camp Preparation:
To avoid as many allergic reactions as possible, childcare providers should prepare, plan, and be aware of the child’s history of reactions. Parents should work with childcare professionals to prepare a plan of action, and make sure that each staff member, whether it’s a nanny, daycare, camp, or school official, knows and understands the plan of action in the event of an allergic reaction.
Seeking Treatment for a Child’s Allergy:
There are various ways to treat seasonal allergies, all of which depend on the severity of the symptoms. The first part is identifying what allergens are at work, which can include dust mites, pets, and mold spores. Some children can get relief by parents reducing or eliminating contact with allergens that bother them. Parents should use environmental control measures to reduce their child’s contact to triggering factors. Some steps are easy to implement, but others can be costly or time-consuming. If reducing exposure isn’t possible or is ineffective, medicines can help alleviate symptoms. These may include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal spray steroids. Always consult your doctor before giving children medication for an allergy.
Contact Nanny Authority for Help from Childcare Professionals
Here at the Nanny Authority, our nannies have experience working with children with various allergies and are equipped to handle emergency situations. If you require a candidate with experience in allergies, contact us at 973-466-2669 or via e-mail for more information today.