By Sean Flynn, MD
Although it may not seem like it with the barrage of winter weather we’ve received here in New Jersey, allergy season is quickly approaching. And as this cold winter begins to shift into a slightly warmer spring, you can surely expect that pollen and mold will begin to increase in the environment, which means a lot of sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and runny, stuffy, or itchy noses for your little ones (or big ones for your teens). If you want your children to get a jump on allergy season and try to make it more enjoyable, there are a few things you should do, as suggested by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI):
Visit your pediatrician or allergist. It’s always best to be prepared with all the right medications before the season starts, whether that means non-drowsy antihistamines or prescription nasal sprays (nasal steroids). Typically, these medicines should be started at least a week prior to the start of allergy season.
Know your children’s triggers. If your child suffers during the allergy season, the best way to avoid allergy symptoms is to avoid their triggers. A visit to their pediatrician or allergist for an allergy skin test or a blood test can tell you what your child is allergic to whether it’s tree pollen, grass, mold, weeds, dust mites, pet allergens, or all of the above.
Keep your windows and doors closed. Pollen and mold can be carried right into your homes in that nice breeze you might feel through that open window or door, getting right into your children’s eyes and noses.
Check the pollen and mold counts. Check your local weather channels or go online to see how high the levels are. This may make the difference between taking that trip to the playground, and having a family fun day at home.
Time your kids’ activities. Pollen counts are highest in the early and mid-morning so the best bet would be to have the kids wait until the afternoon to go outside and play.
Consider washing out their noses. Rinsing out the nasal passages with normal saline can help reduce their allergy symptoms.
Get your kids to take more showers/baths. If you kids have been out playing, the best way to prevent prolonged allergy symptoms is to give them a shower or bath as soon as they come in. Allergens can stick to their clothing, hair, and skin, which can then be transferred to furniture, especially their beds and pillows. Pollen on your child’s pillow is a guaranteed way to have unhappy children in the morning.
If your children are still having severe allergy symptoms despite trying the measures above, then it may be time to see a board-certified allergist if they haven’t already. They may require a stronger medication or even allergy shots to control their allergy symptoms.
I welcome your health pediatric questions. Send to: Dr. Sean Flynn, 299 Glennwood Ave., 2nd Fl., Bloomfield, N.J. 07003 or visit our website at www.sbspediatrics.com.
Dr. Sean Flynn is a Bloomfield physician, practicing from Step by Step Pediatrics.