Partners in Kids Health: Springtime Allergies

Springtime brings warmer temperatures and flowers in bloom, but also brings dreaded allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing.

Dr. Amy CaJacob is an allergist at Children’s of Alabama. She says spring allergies are due to tree pollen. Tree pollen is carried by the wind, so the allergens are in the air we breathe. In the South especially, tree pollen is evidenced by a blanket of yellow dust covering everything outside.

CaJacob says spring allergies usually begin around Valentine’s Day. She advises parents whose children suffer from allergy symptoms in the spring to begin treatment at that time. However, CaJacob says it’s not necessary for everyone to seek treatment.

“If it’s just here and there, drippy nose, itchy eyes and it’s not bothering the child, then it’s probably not anything to worry about,” she says. “But when you get concerned is when it is impacting their quality of life, if they’re not paying attention in school, if they’re stuffy and snotty all the time, scratching or rubbing their eyes, eyes that are bloodshot and tearing then you probably want to seek treatment.”

For children who suffer from asthma, springtime allergies can be especially concerning. “Typically children with asthma are already using a rescue inhaler a couple of times a week. If they’re doing it more than that then they really need to see their pediatrician or an asthma specialist to step up their regimen during pollen season,” CaJacob advises.

It can be tough to avoid pollen exposure in the springtime other than staying indoors.
CaJacob usually advises patients to minimize exposure and limit opening windows and doors during this time of year. Parents can also be aware of the daily pollen report given by the local weather forecast.

If you think your child suffers from seasonal allergies, keep a diary of symptoms and possible triggers and discuss with their pediatrician. They may recommend allergy testing.

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