If you’ve noticed that your child gets cold symptoms when spring or fall arrives, you should take a closer look. If symptoms last for more than a week or two, that cold may really be seasonal allergies.
Allergy symptoms flare when our immune systems go into overdrive and reacts to things in the environment called allergens. They make our bodies release chemicals that can lead to classic seasonal allergy woes: a runny and itchy nose, itchy eyes, and lots of sneezing.
It’s not always easy to figure out which allergens are giving your child problems. You can look for a few clues, but if the problem is severe, his doctor can help you figure out the trouble.
Pollen is the main trigger for seasonal allergies. Trees, weeds, and grasses all give off the tiny particles. The wind picks them up and carries them through the air, and we breathe them in.
- Grass pollens, the most common source of seasonal allergies, are most active from late spring to early summer.
- Ragweed, the most common form of weed allergy, appears in late summer. Other weeds that cause allergy symptoms include sagebrush, pigweed, lamb’s quarters, and tumbleweed.
- Birch, cedar, and oak are among the tree pollens that tend to aggravate allergies in early to late spring. Flowering plants and trees that depend on insects to spread their pollens usually don’t cause seasonal allergies.
- Outdoor molds cause problems when their spores blow through the air, typically from midsummer to early fall. Molds grow on rotting logs and compost, dead leaves, and grasses.
Some people’s symptoms aren’t tied to a specific season. If your child has year-round allergies, his triggers are most likely found indoors:
- Mold: The fungus can live in moist places, like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.
- Dust mites: These tiny creatures thrive in bedding, carpets, and other warm, humid places, even in the cleanest of homes.
- Pet dander: Animals’ skin flakes, saliva, and urine can mix with the dust in your house and cause allergies.
- Droppings from pests like cockroaches that find their way inside your home are common in household dust.
When to See Your Child's Doctor
Whatever the source, it’s important to take allergies seriously. Ongoing symptoms can lead to other health problems for kids, like asthma or sinus and ear infections.
Visit your child's doctor if you think your child has allergies, if you’ve noticed what seem to be allergy symptoms over a long period of time, or if your child doesn’t get relief from allergy medicine.
There’s no need for your child to tough it out during allergy season. With the right help, he’ll be happy and symptom-free.