Airborne Allergies: Seeing the Signs

Spring is the season of rejuvenation, but for allergy and asthma sufferers, it can also be a period of discomfort, congestion, watery eyes, headaches and difficulty breathing.

Research to Find the Best Remedy

Spring has sprung, and parents of young children need to watch for symptoms of allergies to ensure they can the whole family can enjoy themselves at this magical time of year.

Unfortunately, just about every child suffers bouts of cold, with symptoms that include sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes. It is natural for parents to assume their child has a cold or flu, and treat them with common medications, run the humidifier and wait for it to pass.

But recurring, or seasonal symptoms, may indicate that your child has allergies. Here are some signs, and common treatments:

Hay Fever Season

During the spring, summer and early autumn months, many allergy sufferers are confronted with tree, weed and grass pollens, as well as mould spores. The release of pollen and mould spores will happen at different months depending on where you live.

Pollen allergies are difficult to avoid without leaving the environment, so the most common treatments are drug-related, such as anti-inflammatory sprays, antihistamines, decongestants or combinations. Natural remedies, such as nasal rinses, are also popular.

Some doctors may also recommend treatment with a decongestant spray, anti-allergy eye drops, or in extreme cases, desensitizing injections.

If you suspect your child is exhibiting pollen allergy symptoms, talk to a doctor about the best available treatments.

Allergy Testing

In determining your child’s allergies, the services of an allergist might help you determine the types and severity of allergies that he or she suffers. This can eliminate lengthy trial and error to get to the root causes.

With some simple tests — there are a range available from skin testing to injections to blood tests — a doctor might be able to tell you if your child has a plant, animal or food allergy, or whether your child’s symptoms are related to some other ailment.

Other Allergens

Not all allergies are related to seasonal plant blooms. Many children may be sensitive to pet hair, household chemicals and other environmental factors such as dust mites.

When your child shows allergy symptoms, pay attention to their environment. Do they sneeze after playing with the cat or dog? Do they get headaches or other symptoms after you’ve used a household cleaner? Does the dust created by vacuuming cause their eyes to itch and water?

As a parent, you may be able to pinpoint the cause of your child’s reactions, and change your routine to avoid the problem in the future. Simple solutions, such as regularly bathing your pets, or waiting until your child is away at school to clean your home, may be all it takes to clear the air in your household.

For pervasive toxins, other steps may be taken, such as frequent changing of the air filter in your home's heating and cooling system, using a strong air purifier to remove particulate matter from the air or switching to household cleaners that are nontoxic.

  • Help children breathe easier by not smoking indoors, keeping surfaces clean of pet hairs, dust and pollens, limiting outdoor time on ozone alert days, and staying away from motor vehicles.
  • Reduce lead exposure by testing your home and children and avoiding products — such as paints — that contain lead.
  • Store chemicals responsibly, in approved containers. Wash fruits and vegetables, and keep children away from foliage that has been fertilised. You may decide to choose organic foods, free of pesticides.
  • Install carbon monoxide monitors in your home, and test appliances, fireplaces and stoves for carbon monoxide leakage.

Related links

  • Childhood Asthma: How best to deal with it? Asthma is a common ailment among children. Around half of the kids who have it will outgrow it – but if it’s left untreated, it can severely damage your child’s airways. 
  • Sun-Safe Kids: Skin cancer prevention is a must for children who love to play in the sun.
  • Good Dental Hygiene: Good dental hygiene is one of the most valuable skills you can teach your child.
  • Discuss parenting issues with other parents in our forum.

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