While many kids and families look forward to warmer days and getting outside, spring also signals the stuffy nose, itchy eyes and other symptoms that come for those with spring allergies.
Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, shares tips to manage your child’s spring allergies.
Dr. Chawla on WCCO
Dr. Chawla discusses managing your child’s spring allergies with WCCO.
When does outdoor allergy season start? When can my child start taking allergy medications?
Outdoor allergy season starts during mold season. As the snow melts in March and April, old leaves and foliage are exposed and mold exposure is high, triggering allergic response for those who have allergies.
Pollen season in Minnesota
Pollen is a big allergy culprit in spring as the trees begin to bloom. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in Minnesota, pollen typically starts to be released in spring from early April to late May. Pollen season is getting longer and contributing to exacerbations of some respiratory diseases and conditions.
Grass season in Minnesota
Grass causes most late spring and summer pollen allergy symptoms during May through early June.
When can my child start their allergy medications?
Dr. Chawla recommends starting your allergy medications in March. Whether you use nasal sprays or oral medications, begin taking your allergy medications 1-2 weeks before the allergy season begins for whatever you have noted to trigger your child.
Beginning those medications early can help lessen the severity of your symptoms later. If you don’t take your medications before you come in contact with your allergen, your symptoms can worsen throughout the season. And this can put a damper on your fun when summer approaches.
What are signs your child has allergies?
Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that follows exposure to an allergen.
For parents who aren’t sure if their child has spring allergies, a common clue is repeated or chronic cold-like symptoms that last more than a week or two, or that develop at about the same time every year. These could include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal stuffiness
- Throat clearing
- Nose rubbing
- Sniffling or snorting
- Itchy, runny eyes
Other common allergy clues:
- Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth and throat. Itchiness is not usually a cold symptom, but it is the hallmark of an allergy problem.
- Respiratory symptoms like: coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing and other respiratory symptoms.
- Recurrent rashes that are red, itchy, dry and scaly in the creases of the skin, wrists and ankles.
What allergy medication and treatment options are OK for kids?
Although there’s no cure for seasonal allergies, there are many medications to help manage and control symptoms.
Mild-to-moderate allergy symptoms
Many over-the-counter medications will help relieve some of their mild-to-moderate discomfort.
Commonly used over-the-counter medications include antihistamines, such as:
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
- Claritin (loratadine)
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- Allegra (fexofenadine)
Persistent allergy symptoms
Persistent allergies may require an anti-inflammatory nasal spray such as Flonase (fluticasone), Nasonex (mometasone) and Nasacort (triamcinolone) and/or eye drops like Patanol (olopatadine).
Severe allergy symptoms
For severe symptoms, immunotherapy like allergy shots or sublingual tablets can help your child’s immune system not react so severely.
As always, Dr. Chawla recommends talking with your child’s primary care provider or allergist regarding the most-appropriate option for medication for your child.