Achoo! Nothing to sneeze at?

Not quite so.  Unless you absolutely love the cold, most people look forward to the transition of Winter into Spring. Unfortunately, it isn’t so pleasant for those suffering from seasonal allergies. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is the term typically used to describe most seasonal allergies. Symptoms usually consist of itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, and nasal congestion.

The good news is that there are few things that can be done to help prevent/manage hay fever. The following are some helpful tips:

1. Keep the windows closed at home Fresh spring air also means fresh pollen being brought into the home. Turn on the air conditioner instead.

2. Manage your child’s time spent outdoors wisely – We all know that we can’t keep a child from playing outdoors. It is not fair to keep them in a bubble. Fresh air, physical activity, and vitamin D absorbed from the sun are very important for health function; however, there are many sites and phone apps that can be checked for the local pollen count. In situations like these, medication might be a helpful choice to manage allergies.


3. Wash up and change when you get home. Speaking of bringing pollen in, you also do a good job of that when you come inside. The allergy sufferer should definitely change clothes and wash his hands and face when he comes in, but it’s not a bad idea for everyone to do the same. Try to keep your house as pollen-free as possible. The bedroom is particularly important since your child probably spends the most time playing in the room. If possible, try to keep your child out of his bedroom during the day (move the fun toys somewhere else) and have him bathe before bed.

4.  Be thoughtful about outside time. As healthcare provider , I absolutely want my patients to be outside; I want them to be active, and to get the sunshine that helps their bodies make vitamin D. If you have an allergy sufferer, you need to be mindful before you decide to send your child outside. Dry and windy days are the worst and so are areas where a lot of plants have been planted. Many weather sites and apps have local pollen counts; check those apps while you make your outdoor plans. Since you can’t keep your child in a bubble until allergy season is over, you may need to use medication. When you do…

5. Use medication the right way — talk to your doctor if it’s not working. When it comes to taking a medication to relieve symptoms, like the itchy eyes or sneezing of allergies, we tend to think that we should take it when we have the symptoms, but that's not necessarily true. It turns out that allergy medications work best when you take them consistently.  It can take a while to kick in. While it’s understandable that you would want to hold off on medications until things get bad and skip them on good days, your child will actually do better if you get them started at the first sniffle. Continue until allergy season is over. Make sure to check with your doctor a good time to stop taking medications. We most commonly use antihistamines which are taken by mouth, nasal sprays to help stuffiness and sneezing, and eye drops to help with the itchy eyes. Most of these medications are available without a prescription. It may not occur to families to call their doctor when allergy season hits; they just head to the pharmacy. If what you buy is working, great. It not, give your doctor a call. Changing to a different medication, dose, or using it a bit differently can make all the difference. It does not hurt to get screened regardless so that your doctor can be sure that there aren't any other underlying problems other than allergies. 


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