Stop the Sniffles — A Pediatrician’s Advice to Curb Children’s Springtime Allergies

Child rubbing itchy eyesChildren can’t wait to play outside now that warmer weather has arrived. But something’s out there waiting for many of them, too: Seasonal allergies are back.

Allergies most often begin to appear in children between 2 and 5 years old, said Ashish John, MD, a pediatrician with Koke Mill Medical Associates in Springfield, part of Memorial Physician Services.

Dr. John said children may have allergies if they have a constant cough, a constant runny nose or if they regularly sound congested. Other common signs that parents don’t often recognize – a child who is constantly clearing his or her throat or rubbing his or her eyes.

If you suspect allergies, it’s important to call your family doctor or pediatrician to schedule an appointment and discuss the symptoms.

“There are definitely clear things that we look for in a physical exam that says allergies versus something else,” Dr. John said.

While medications such as oral antihistamines can help, some simple everyday steps can keep your child’s allergies at bay:

  • Keep children inside when there are high pollen and mold counts.
  • Use a simple nasal saline spray to flush your child’s nose out and remove many of the allergens present in the air.
  • For children with indoor allergies, parents can use dust mite covers, follow a frequent schedule of cleaning and vacuuming, and wash the sheets regularly.

“Simple, day-to-day prevention can make a big difference,” Dr. John said.

It’s important to take allergies seriously. If parents don’t take prompt action, uncontrolled seasonal allergies could lead to secondary infections, such as frequent ear or sinus infections.

And, “there is a huge connection between allergies, asthma and eczema,” Dr. John said. “So if you do have allergies that are untreated, it sets you up for trouble if you have co-existing asthma or eczema.”

Dr. John recently discussed pediatric allergies on WTAX. To hear the full interview and listen to other health topics, visit our podcast page on LiveWellMagazine.org.