Outdoor Allergies in Kids

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on November 30, 2022

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, lairways spasm and this causes difficulty in breathing, referred to as bronchospasm. This can cause:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing, especially during exercise

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.
  • Local honey may be something you may want to consider feeding your children if over 1 year to help  with allergies


Show Sources


American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: "Outdoor allergens: Tips to remember."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Seasonal allergies in children," "Diagnosing allergies."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Childhood asthma."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Pollen allergy."

Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th edition, Saunders, 2011.

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