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Toddler 101: How to identify and treat springtime allergies


  Seasonal allergies often begin at age 2.                    by Darby Herrington

Between the ages of 2 and 5, some children begin to show signs of seasonal allergies.  Springtime allergies, also known as hay fever, are caused by a sensitivity to pollen and other allergens associated with the new growth of trees, plants, flowers and grasses. 

For parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers, seasonal allergies can be easily mistaken for common colds and bugs going around.  Before parents start treating with medicine for common cold symptoms, they should first make sure that seasonal allergies are not the culprit.

To help identify whether it is just another runny nose, look for these signs of springtime allergies:

  • Ongoing congestion that lasts for more than a week;
  • Constant runny nose, draining clear and thin mucus;
  • Red, watery eyes, sometimes dark circles under eyes (and a couple of little hands rubbing/itching them more than usual);
  • Dry cough;
  • Rash;
  • No fever accompanying the above symptoms;
  • Ear infection; and
  • Family history of seasonal allergies.

If they suspect seasonal allergies, parents should check the daily pollen count to see if their child's symptoms worsen when it is high.

There are several over-the-counter allergy medications, including antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays, that can help ease a toddler's hay fever symptoms.  However, parents should first check with their child's pediatrician before administering any medications to find out what is recommended specifically for their child.

To help minimize allergy symptoms, the Mayo Clinic makes some helpful suggestions in the article, "Springtime allergies: Nip them in the bud":

  • Keep your child indoors on dry, windy days — the best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Limit exposure to lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes worn outside; shower or take a bath to rinse pollen from skin and hair.
  • Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car, especially when pollen counts are high.

 For more information visit:  American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, mayoclinic.com, keepkidshealthy.com

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Copyright ©2010 by E. Darby Herrington.  All rights reserved.

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