Families normally welcome spring and its warmer weather after spending months inside during the cold seasons. The days are balmier, and the warm sunshine allows everyone to spend plenty of time outdoors. With spring however, come millions of airborne plant particles that can play up havoc with little one’s noses, by triggering bouts of irritating and unpleasant hay fever, or allergic rhinitis as it is also referred to.
Why does hay fever happen in spring?
Flowers, plants and trees release minute particles called pollen into the air as the weather starts to warm up, in order to fertilise other plants. When these tiny grains are breathed into the nasal passages, they cause the body’s defence system to kick into overdrive, thereby triggering the allergy symptoms associated with hay fever.
What are the symptoms?
Sometimes it’s hard to know if your kid’s runny nose and sneezing is because of the pollen in the air or if they have a head cold. Allergic rhinitis symptoms include:
• Congested, runny, itchy nose
• Irritable and itchy, watery, red eyes
• Itchy palate, throat and ears
Kids suffering from rhinitis usually rub their nose up and down, a movement that experts have named “allergic salute,” a good way to distinguish between the seasonal allergy and a head cold. Thicker mucous, a low-grade fever and an aching body are the symptoms of a cold in children that usually blow over after about five days.
How to manage rhinitis/hay fever
Doing the following can help a lot to manage these unpleasant symptoms:
• Stay inside on windy days – it’s best to keep your little ones inside on windy days, when the pollen count is extremely high. If it’s not possible to keep them inside when the wind is blasting, then make sure to wash the clothing they’ve worn outside, as soon as possible, to get rid of the pollen clinging to the material.
• Keep track of your kid’s symptoms – keep a log of when the symptoms occur. It will help a lot when you consult your doctor, to determine the cause of your child’s allergy and what type of treatment should be used.
• Over-the-counter medicine – although there is a wide range of non-sedating, long reacting, children’s antihistamines available, it is advisable to speak to your doctor first, before buying them to use for your child.
• Check the pollen count – make sure to check the pollen count in your area so that you can plan accordingly, the time your child spends outdoors.
• At home – there are several things you can do at home to manage your child’s allergy symptoms, like keeping the windows closed to prevent extra pollen from entering your home, hanging washed clothes inside rather than outdoors and also, to remove allergens from inside your home, by using an air purifier.
Treatment for your child’s pollen allergy
Wiping your kid’s eyes with cotton wool dipped in cold water will help a lot to soothe the irritable itchiness. Nasal drops or spray will help to rinse pollen and clear the blocked nose. Children from the age of six and older can use sodium chromoglycate eye drops and steroid nasal spray for severe symptoms. Your chemist will be able to advise you on any other over-the-counter medications which could help relieve the condition
However, don’t simply assume that your child has rhinitis if they have all the symptoms of the condition. If they have runny noses, red eye and the rest of the symptoms all through the year, then it’s quite possible that their condition has something to do with indoor allergens such as dust, or dust mites for instance, rather than hay fever.