With the changing weather, we are getting a lot of questions about seasonal allergies in children!
Allergies are caused by the body’s reaction to substances generally termed “allergens”, which trigger the immune system to react to harmless substances as though they were attacking the body, like a virus or bacteria would.
Common symptoms of allergies are:
- Runny nose
- Nasal stuffiness
- Throat clearing
- Nose rubbing
- Itchy, runny eyes
Some of the symptoms overlap with cold symptoms, and given that there are still many “winter” viruses going around in Chicago, it can be difficult to tell the difference between allergies and viral illnesses. One symptom to pay attention to is itching. This is one that is almost never seen with a cold, but is very typical for allergies.
To help reduce allergy symptoms:
- Consider an air purifier, or at least an air conditioner, to reduce exposure to pollen in the home.
- Zip mattresses, box springs, pillows, and cushions in allergen-proof covers.
- Wash linens weekly, and other bedding like blankets every 2-3 weeks, in hot water to kill dust mites.
- Replace pillows every 2 to 3 years.
Talk to your pediatrician about the symptoms you are seeing before starting a children’s allergy medicine. In certain cases, a referral to a pediatric allergy specialist may be in order for additional evaluation and testing also. For more severe cases, immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) may even be an option.