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With sources by Dr. Hilary Gordon.
Children love going outside, touching and exploring everything their little hands can reach, and what better time to do so than in the spring and summer! However, having to deal with hay fever can be quite unpleasant.
I don’t fare too well with hay fever and neither does one of my children so over the years we’ve had to adapt and learn what makes it worse and what can help to make it better. The following advice are some nuggets I’ve picked up on as well as advice from one of our experts.
Continue reading for tips on preventing and treating hay fever in babies to keep your children healthy and happy during allergy season.
What Is Hay Fever?
Hay fever is a seasonal allergy that causes symptoms similar to the common cold. This allergy, which is also known as allergic rhinitis, affects about 13 million people in the UK, making it one of the most common allergies there.
This seasonal allergy is usually caused by pollen, which is most prevalent from late March to September.
When people who are allergic get exposed to grass pollen, their bodies give allergic reactions that cause cold-like symptoms. Other harmless substances such as pet fur and dust mites can also act as allergens.
A common cold normally lasts about a week and starts within one to three days of exposure to the virus. However, hay fever usually lasts as long as the person is exposed to allergens and happens immediately after exposure.
Here are some common hay fever symptoms:
- Itchy eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
Hay fever can also cause loss of smell as well as itchiness in the throat and roof of the mouth.
Can Children Get Hay Fever?
Hay fever is common among children, affecting 10 –15% of children in the UK. Just like adults, seasonal allergies can affect children starting from 1.5 to 2 years old if they’re exposed to allergens.
It’s also more common in children who have other allergies like eczema and asthma.
What do the experts say?
Dr. Hilary Gordon, expert in allergy and immunology and paediatrics says “If your child develops “cold” symptoms at the same time every year, seasonal allergies might be to blame. Allergy symptoms, which usually come on suddenly and last for as long as a person is exposed to the allergen
Three Tips to Treat Children With Hay Fever
Although there isn’t a specific cure for hay fever, there are other ways for parents to help limit allergens and/or ease their children’s annoying allergy symptoms.
More exposure to pollen means worse symptoms for your child. Here are some precautions that can make a big difference:
- Pollen counts are usually higher in the mornings and early evenings. So, try to keep your child indoors during these times, especially on windy days.
- Keep your child away from places that have grass and avoid having them around for activities like mowing the lawn.
- Change your child’s clothes and wash their hands, face, and hair once they come home since pollen can stick to their body and clothes.
- Wearing sunglasses, especially the wraparound type, can help stop the pollen from getting into your child’s eyes.
- Vacuum and wash your child’s sheets more regularly, especially in the areas closer to doors and windows.
- If you have pets that go outside, make sure you wipe their fur before going back into the house.
Consider Investing in an Air Purifier
Even with these precautions, it’s hard to keep the air inside your house pollen-free at all times. This is why an air purifier can come in handy, keeping a fresh and clean indoor environment for your child.
An air purifier helps reduce the severity of symptoms by attracting fine particles of pollen and other pollutants, trapping them in filters and sanitizing them.
Using allergy medications like antihistamines and nasal sprays is also an efficient way to block the body’s allergic reaction and relieve symptoms like itching, sneezing, and runny nose.
That said, some medications might not be suitable for all ages, so make sure you consult your pharmacist to know what’s best for your child’s age and condition.
What Not to Give Children With Hay Fever
Many factors can trigger hay fever in children, some more obvious than others.
When we talk about allergy triggers, we usually focus more on things like smoke, perfume, or pet fur, but sometimes normal everyday foods can also be triggering.
Some foods can trigger allergy symptoms because they contain proteins similar to the proteins that are in the allergy-causing pollen. That’s why the body can mistake these foods for pollen, causing an allergic reaction.
Some of these foods include:
- Vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, celery, and zucchini
- Fruits like berries, oranges, melons, figs, bananas, and cantaloupes
- Dairy products, nuts, and seeds
These foods are most triggering when they’re consumed in their raw form. So, if you have to feed some of them to your child, it’s better to cook them thoroughly first to avoid exacerbating the symptoms.
What do the experts say?
Dr. Gordon adds “If certain seasons cause symptoms, keep the windows closed, use air conditioning instead of fresh air when possible, and stay indoors when pollen counts are high. It’s also a good idea for kids with seasonal allergies to wash their hands or shower and change clothes after playing outside.”
We know hay fever can be irritating, with the constant itching, coughing, and sneezing. However, it doesn’t have to stop your child from having the time of his life!
After learning all about preventing and treating hay fever in babies, dealing with your child’s hay fever won’t be a problem.
You can identify the symptoms and take the necessary precautions to keep your children healthy while they enjoy the pleasant weather.