Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Does your child have a pollen allergy?

Photo: Chris Roll/
When warmer weather starts to roll in, most kids are ready to shake off cabin fever and get outside to play. It’s also the time when trees and plants are pollinating − a bad combination for a child with a pollen allergy.

“Spring is a problem for lots of people with allergies because it’s when trees and other plants start releasing pollens into the air,” said Joyce Rabbat, MD, pediatric allergist at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “There are different types of allergies, but if you notice that your child has more symptoms and reactions during the spring it’s a clue that they have a pollen allergy.”

According to Rabbat, allergy symptoms include:
• Itchy eyes
• Sneezing
• Stuffy and/or runny nose
• Coughing
• Asthma

“It’s great to get kids outside and exercising, but if your child has outdoor allergies just be sure to keep an eye on them in case of a reaction,” Rabbat said. For children with allergies to pollen, symptoms most likely will be worse on dry, windy days. Rabbat suggests the following to help limit reactions.

• Check pollen counts and try to spend less time outside when the counts are high. Loyola has an official allergy count you can follow on Twitter @GottliebAllergy
• Keep windows and doors closed, especially on high count days, to limit the amount pollen that settles onto furniture and carpet
• Use the air conditioner to filter pollens from the air inside your house
• When children come in from outdoors have them wash their face and hands; consider having them take a shower and change their clothes to get pollen off the body.

“If your child is active outdoors or in sports, make sure he or she takes allergy medication before heading outside,” Rabbat said.
Rabbat warns parents to keep an eye out for asthma symptoms as many children who deal with allergies have allergic asthma as well.

Allergic asthma symptoms include:
• Couging
• Wheezing
• Shortness of breath
• Rapid breathing
• Feeling a tightness in the chest

“Often treating children’s allergies helps to control their asthma as well. Kids may need to take an allergy medicine before going outside, or they may need daily allergy medication. It’s also important to get ahead of your allergy symptoms. Once allergies are flaring, they become more difficult to treat. If you are on a good medication regimen before the pollens peak, it makes for a much more enjoyable season,” Rabbat.

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