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    Outdoor Allergies in Kids

    If your child often is coughing, wheezing, or has what seems like a common cold during the warm months, outdoor allergies may be to blame.

    Causes of outdoor allergies

    Outdoor allergy triggers in children include:

    • Pollen. Trees tend to release their pollen in the spring. Grasses should follow, in early summer, and weeds get going in late summer. In the North, growing season starts later in the year, which means a later start for pollen-related allergies.
    • Mold spores. These tend to float in the air in the summer, though in warmer areas mold spores may stay in the air year-round.

    Symptoms of outdoor allergies

    Outdoor allergies can cause

    Allergic rhinitis. Better known as "hay fever." Symptoms include:

    Asthma. This is a common condition in children. During an attack, lung passages narrow and get clogged with mucus. This can cause:

    Identifying outdoor allergies

    Other conditions that make it hard to breathe can be confused with outdoor allergies. Here’s how to tell the difference:

    • Allergies to indoor triggers -- including dust mites, cockroaches, and dogs and cats -- tend to cause symptoms year-round. Symptoms of outdoor allergies usually come at the same time during warm months year after year. Also, if your child’s symptoms get better on extended trips away, indoor allergies in your home may be the cause.
    • The common cold can also cause many hay fever-like symptoms. However, with hay fever, kids' noses and mouths often itch, which is unusual during a cold.

    Preventing outdoor allergies

    Help your child feel better by:

    • Tracking pollen counts. Some weather stations and web sites report the levels of airborne pollen in specific areas. Levels are often higher on warm, windy, dry days. If pollen is high in your area, keep your child indoors if you can.
    • Cooling your home and car with an air conditioner instead of opening the windows.
    • Keeping your child from playing in dead leaves in the fall. The leaves often harbor mold.
    • Using a clothes dryer instead of hanging laundry outside.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on October 23, 2014

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