Each year, tree pollen season generally starts around the middle of March and lasts until the end of June. Symptoms are commonly seen in children during this period, with symptoms including a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat (especially at night and early in the morning) and a slight cough. Local pollen counts can be easily followed at www.pollen.com.
Suspect seasonal allergies if your child:
- has prolonged colds (lasting more than 14-18 days) in the spring
- has itchy red eyes with very little discharge
- has a strong family history of allergies
- complains of prolonged sneezing or early morning cough with a sore throat
Oral Antihistamine Treatment (non-prescription) for the nose and eyes:
- Zyrtec, Xyzal (purified form of Zyrtec), Claritin or Allergra (or generics) – these are non-sedating antihistamines that are given once daily. They are available as pills, dissolvable pills, or liquids. The dosing is listed on the package. Claritin (loratadine) and Allegra (fexofenadine) are FDA-approved down to 2 years of age. Zyrtec (cetirizine) has been approved for use in all people older than 6 months of age.
Eye Drops (non-prescription):
- Zaditor (or generic ketotifen) – very effective for the management of itchy eyes. Place 1-2 drops into each eye twice a day. To put into the eyes, have your child lay flat on a bed. Have your child close eyes tightly and point his or her nose straight up at the ceiling. Place 1-2 drops in the inner corner of each eye and then have your child open eyes. In addition, consider giving your children hand wipes when they are outdoors so they can wipe the pollen off their hands before they rub their eyes.
Nasal Sprays (prescription and now non-prescription):
- Flonase (fluticasone) or Nasacort OTC are both over-the-counter, very low-dose nasal steroid treatments that decrease the inflammation in the nose caused by breathing in pollen. Nasal steroids are generally used once daily and generally start to be effective in 4-5 days.
All allergy medicines work best when they are started at least two weeks before your child’s allergy season.Your child should come into the office if no better after being on medication for two weeks. Additionally, when the greenish pollen (often oak) starts to cover our cars and the ground, children tend to develop itchy eyes and are continually rubbing their eyes. Doing this re-injects pollen into the eyes, causing swollen eyes and a slight discharge – this causes allergic conjunctivitis (not infectious conjunctivitis) which is not contagious. Making sure children wash off when they come in after an afternoon of play can prevent some allergens from getting in the eyes and nose.
- Another resource is the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: www.aaaai.org
- For more information, please see Dr. Hartman’s video on Spring Allergies.
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- If you have not seen the hit hand-washing dance created by Vietnamese choreographer Quang Đăng, today’s your day, it’s GOOD.
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