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    Allergy Medicine Tips for Children

    You can't cure your child’s allergies, but you can help your little one feel better.

    There are many types of allergies. If your child has the nasal kind -- such as reactions to pollen -- you’ll want to know what types of medicines are out there.

    With any type of drug, be sure to follow the directions on the label.

    Antihistamine Basics

    When your child has an allergic reaction, his body releases a chemical called histamine. That’s what makes his nose stuffy or runny. It can also make his eyes itchy and watery.

    Antihistamines are usually the first medications used to treat allergies. Like their name suggests, they block the effect of histamine.

    Things to Know:

    • Some are short-acting and are taken every 4 to 6 hours.
    • Longer-acting timed-release ones are taken every 12 to 24 hours.
    • Some medicines combine an antihistamine and a decongestant.
    • The most common side effects are drowsiness and dry mouth.

    Ask your pediatrician which medicine is best for your child.

    When Kids Should Take Antihistamines

    Most experts say you should take these meds before symptoms start in order to keep them at bay.

    Ask your pediatrician whether you should give your child allergy medicine:

    Before bed. Allergy symptoms are often worse between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. If you give him medicine before he goes to sleep, it could control his morning symptoms.

    Before allergy season. If your child is allergic to pollen, you may want to start an antihistamine before pollen season, for 3 to 10 days.

    All the time. If your little one has year-round allergies, he may need to take allergy medication regularly to prevent symptoms.

    Common Antihistamines

    Examples of prescription-strength ones include:

    Most eyedrops are recommended only for children over 3. Common prescription ones include:

    An over-the-counter eyedrop option is ketotifen fumarate (Zaditor).

    Over-the-counter antihistamines include:

    Nasal Spray Basics

    Steroid nose sprays fight inflammation and help your child breathe better. They can be liquids or aerosol puffs, and they're used once or more a day.

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