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Hay Fever and Children: What to Know & How to Treat It

by A. Vogel USA, on 28 April 2017, Allergies

Is your child constantly rubbing their eyes? Sneezing, especially when outside? Is their nose runny or blocked? Have you noticed if any of these seem to be worse on sunny days? Then it could be hay fever!

For a child, hay fever symptoms can be both upsetting and unsettling, especially if they can’t explain how they feel (which is common in very young children), or if the symptoms are disrupting their sleep at night and concentration during the day.

How can I tell if my child has hay fever?

There’s a reason hay fever is often called seasonal rhinitis and that’s because symptoms generally occur at the same time, or during the same seasons (spring and summer) every year. If your child’s symptoms follow this pattern, then this is a good sign that it could be hay fever; however if their symptoms are year round then it could be allergic rhinitis, including an allergy to dust mites or pets.

Hay fever is most common in children, particularly teenagers, due to the onset of puberty, and although the condition lessens in severity with age, it can linger well into late adulthood. It rarely develops in children before the age of 3 due to the amount of time they spend indoors, though it can vary from child to child, as do the symptoms they experience.

Another good indicator that your child has hay fever is the symptoms they are experiencing. The symptoms can often be mistaken for a common cold,  including a constant runny nose, congestion, sneezing and a scratchy throat. Itchy eyes, throat, an itchy feeling in their ears and the roof of their mouth are all often associated with an allergic reaction, rather than their body fighting an infection.

Colds also generally clear up within a few days, but hay fever symptoms can take several weeks/months before they disappear – they won’t go until the pollen does.

Tips to help reduce your child’s hay fever symptoms

Although it is impossible to entirely avoid pollen, there are some preventative measures which you can take to help reduce your child’s exposure to pollen, which in turn will help to reduce the severity of their symptoms, including:

1. Knowing the pollen count for your area – Pollen counts are great for measuring the amount of pollen in the air, which will allow you to determine how bad your child’s symptoms might be on any given day.

2. Checking the weather – Pollen levels are very much dependent on the weather. Knowing the weather forecast can be helpful, especially when planning trips or outside activities. Hot, dry and windy weather helps to blow pollen around, whilst a week of dull rainy weather, followed by a few days of warm sunshine, can also drive pollen levels sky high.

3. Washing pollen away – If your child has been playing outdoors for an extended period of time, it is important to wash their face, hands and hair when they come inside.

4. Choosing preventative clothing for your child – Wearing wrap-around sunglasses can also help stop pollen getting in their eyes. Sunglasses will also discourage rubbing, which could make sore eyes worse. When you have been out for the day, change your child’s clothes and your own as soon as you come back into the house to ensure pollen doesn’t hang around when you are inside.

5. Closing windows – Keep the windows in your home closed on high pollen days and, if possible, use air conditioning in your car when traveling, rather than opening windows.

6. Spreading a little barrier balm around the edge of your child’s nostrils – A barrier balm such as coconut oil can help to trap or block pollen before it is inhaled.

7. Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine without the unpleasant effects of some conventional antihistamine medication.

Learn how to Kick allergens out of your home and your diet!

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