Spring Time Maladies
It is spring time and flowers are blooming and it’s such a pleasure to go out for a walk and see the grass becoming green again and all the signs of new life. But along with all this comes some spring time maladies. If you suffer from any form of allergies you know exactly what I’m talking about. All the sneezing, watery eyes and itchy nose and throat do not make for a fun time outdoors. How can I enjoy the pleasures of spring whilst minimizing the spring time maladies?
It’s important to recognize the symptoms and learn how to deal with them. Below are a few common allergy symptoms and suggestions on how to deal with them.
1. Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis
This is one of the most common symptoms parents and children alike have to deal with. Seasonal allergic rhinitis means you have symptoms during certain seasons of the year. These people tend to be allergic to pollen from grasses, weeds and trees so depending on where you live the symptoms appear for some, during spring. Some people have perennial (year round) allergic rhinitis and those people may be allergic to dust mites that we live with year round. You usually present with clear runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose, ears and roof of the mouth. Children and adults rub their noses, “the allergic salute” and have a nasal crease. They can make a clicking nose in their throat due to the itching throat or are constantly clearing their throats, snorting or sniffing. As an allergy sufferer, I know how inconvenient these symptoms are and unfortunately how they can irritate others as well. Allergic rhinitis does tend to run in families so hopefully parents will be understanding when their children have these symptoms. Children are brought in because of the constant runny nose and sometimes the significant congestion and difficulty breathing especially at night.
2. Tips on Management
Parents often get very frustrated and want to know what they can do to help their children. First of all you should recognize the symptoms and be ready to deal with them. If this is the first time your child is presenting with these symptoms, you should take your child to see their primary care provider to confirm this is indeed what you are dealing with. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, there are different medications can be given to help with the symptoms. There are several over the counter oral antihistamines and some prescription medications your provider may recommend. Once you are advised on what medication to use, it is important your child actually takes the medication. The mistake a lot of families make is once the child starts feeling better they discontinue the medication and the symptoms return. If your child has seasonal allergic rhinitis, it is a good idea to keep your child on the medication during the season to help control the symptoms. If your child has previously been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, then pre-emptively start the medication as soon as the season is approaching to help prevent the symptoms. You can call in to your doctor or provider’s office to confirm it is okay to do this.
Other management options are the nasal steroid sprays which are actually very helpful in controlling the congestion. The first thing I tell my parents is this medication is different from the steroids athletes take, since parents get very wary when they hear the word “steroids.” Some children will not use these sprays because they don’t like to squirt anything up their nose. I encourage the older children to at least give it a try since this can really relieve a lot of the symptoms. As always, you want to check with your pediatrician or nurse practitioner about how long to use the medication for and also how to use the medication. If it is not used right it will not work.
3. What can parents do at home to help their children?
There are simple measures parents can take to help manage their children’s symptoms. We always recommend keeping kids indoors when pollen counts are high so their allergies are not triggered. However, as a parent I know that is almost impossible to do, when everyone else is outside. Making sure your child takes a shower or bath at night before going to bed helps to get the pollen off the skin and hair so they don’t take it to bed with them and re-expose themselves over and over again. When indoors, you should keep your windows shut, to keep the pollen out, and use your air conditioner. Normal Saline nasal rinses are also helpful, if you can get your child to do it.
4. Allergic conjunctivitis
Some children and adults also have accompanying eye symptoms. Eyes are itchy and some have dark circles of the lower eyelids. There is tearing of the eyes and the eyes look red. The worst thing you can do is to give in to the itching and start rubbing your eyes. This leads to the itch scratch itch cycle. The more you rub, the more histamine you release and the itchier the eyes get. I know, it is hard not to rub but really try and discourage your kids from rubbing.
We live in an amazing place, Earth. Teeming with life and life to be. It is unfortunate for so many humans to be adversely affected by this joyous cYale of renewed life. If we can manage the symptoms, this newness of life can be a real pLea sure. So get outside and smell the roses, if your noses allow.