As a parent, you know kids come down with everything. That’s why it’s a bit tricky to identify early signs of pollen allergies—because they often disguise themselves as other illnesses. However, pollen allergies are really common in kids—affecting 6.6 million worldwide—and can set in at any age. Here are some red flags to watch out for and remedies to alleviate your child’s uncomfortable pollen allergy symptoms.
Signs Your Child has Pollen Allergies
- Cold-like Symptoms Without a Fever
Sneezing, coughing, post-nasal drip, congestion, and a runny nose are all symptoms of pollen allergies. They’re also signs of a cold. So how do you know if your child’s frequent nose blowing is an allergy or a bug going around school? For one, allergies don’t cause a fever. Secondly, colds typically last six to 14 days while seasonal allergies can drag on for months. It’s important to note that chronic coughing could be a sign of asthma, so consult your doctor if you’re worried about your child.
- Itchy, Watery, and Red Eyes
Is your child scratching his/her eyes a lot? That’s a telltale sign of a pollen allergy. When your child is allergic to pollen, his/her little immune system goes berzerk thinking something dangerous is entering the body. Your child’s eyes water in order to purge his/her body of a contaminant. But the more your child scratches, the itchier, puffier, and more uncomfortable they’ll be. Stock up on allergy eye drops to alleviate these nagging symptoms and try to keep your little one from rubbing his/her eyes.
- Chronic Ear Problems
The histamines your child’s body releases during an allergic reaction to pollen cause inflammation. Inflammation in your child’s nose and sinuses affect the ears because they’re connected through tubes. When pollen allergies become serious enough, your child might get chronic ear infections, dizziness from inner ear pressure, and headaches. Normally, allergies affect the middle ear, so if that’s a routine problem, pollen is probably the culprit.
- Hives and Rashes
When your child is really allergic to pollen, they can get hives—something 20 percent of people get in their lifetime. These raised red bumps are only temporary, but super itchy. Hives should be a clear sign that your child has a severe pollen allergy, since the body is hyper sensitive and may be triggered by other chemicals and substances that aren’t normally a problem. You can treat hives with hydrocortisone creams, calamine lotion, and an oatmeal bath. Just try to keep your child from scratching or the hives will get worse and take longer to go away.
- Symptoms Spring through Fall
Study your child’s flare-ups. If they’re stuffy, itchy, and uncomfortable all year, then it’s probably not pollen bothering them. If you notice an uptick in sneezing, coughing, and scratching during spring, summer, or fall, it’s most due to pollen—otherwise known as a seasonal allergy. Talk to your pediatrician to determine the culprit because verifying a pollen allergy is half the battle—and the only way you’ll be able to treat his/her discomfort best.
How to Alleviate Your Child’s Pollen Allergies
- Get Allergy Shots
Allergy shots are meant for extreme allergies that cannot be alleviated by common medicine. This is not a quick fix, but a last resort; allergy shots often take months to years to complete and must be maintained for your child’s entire life. Why? Well, allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy that slowly introduce allergens into your system on a regular basis so you can build up a tolerance—like a vaccine. Allergy shots aren’t a guarantee for everyone, but they have been shown to decrease the risk of developing asthma due to allergies.
- Use an Air Purifier
Air purifiers remove mold, must, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne allergens from the air. If your child starts sneezing every spring or fall, get an air purifier meant for pollen. Keep the windows closed during peak pollen season and the air purifier on.
- Take Antihistamines
Flonase is a modern day miracle; a couple squirts in each nostril per day and your child’s pollen allergy symptoms should subside. You can also look into non-drowsy Zyrtec or Benadryl for seasonal flare-ups that need extra alleviation. All of the above block histamines—the hormones that tell your child’s body to go into defense mode—and help with seasonal allergies.
- Eat Local Honey
Eating local, raw honey may help your child’s pollen allergies. That’s because bees collect pollen within a five-mile radius of their hive and the constant exposure can help your kid build up immunity—much like allergy shots. The science behind this theory is still hotly debated, but raw honey is delicious and loaded with health benefits, so it couldn’t hurt to try.
- Stay Inside on High Pollen Days
Your weather forecast should tell you the pollen forecast, much like it does the UV index, for the week. If you know your child is sensitive to pollen and spending too much time outdoors will result in a massive headache and crankiness, stay inside. Normally, pollen blooms last a few days to one week, so it shouldn’t put too much of a damper on your child’s routine.
A kid with untreated pollen allergies is an unhappy, cranky one. Learn the telltale signs we’ve listed above and easy remedies to make your child’s life less itchy and more fun.