Allergy season is in full swing. People are having itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. Rachel Dawkins, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinic answers some important questions about allergies.
Why does it seem like everyone is suffering from allergies at this time of year?
We are at the beginning of spring and trees are blooming. So, for those kids and adults with seasonal allergies this is the worst time of year.
What symptoms do you see in kids with allergies?
Sore throat, runny nose, itchy noses and eyes, cough especially at night or first thing in the morning from post-nasal drip. Sometimes it’s tough to decide if your child has strep throat or a cold rather than allergies. If you are worried, call your pediatrician, that’s what we are here for. For most of my patients with seasonal allergies, I can look back and see that they came for an office visit the same time last year with the same complaint.
What are common things kids are allergic to in the environment?
Besides trees, grasses and weeds, kids are exposed to many other allergens in the home. Common ones that cause problems are smoke exposure, dust mites, pet dander, rats/mice and cockroaches. It’s really impossible to avoid these, but we can work to limit exposure to these allergens. Showering immediately after playing outside or at least before bed to wash off pollen, eliminating carpet and limiting stuffed animals, using dust mite covers on the mattress, and using a HEPA filter are just some ways to help a kid with environmental allergies.
If that doesn’t work, what are the best treatments?
Talk with your pediatrician first. For infants, breastfeeding gives protection against allergies. But there are some great over-the-counter treatments available for school age and older kids including nasal sprays like Flonase and Nasacort and antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra etc.
This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.