How to manage your child's allergies in spring

Here is great advice from Clicks' resident paediatrician to ensure your kids enjoy this season outdoors.

27 August 2014
by Dr Iqbal Karbanee

As the days get progressively warmer, the air is filled with new energy. The change in season brings new health challenges, and this is particularly true when it comes to allergies.

With the warmer weather, various trees, flowers and grasses go into bloom and the pollen count in the air increases. This varies according to area, but in general, as the pollen count goes up, so too does the incidence of allergies in susceptible people.

Allergies can present in various ways: the most common being simple hayfever. This is nasal congestion and mucous production with sneezing and irritation of the nose, especially in the mornings. Hayfever can be quite troublesome and should be treated. If nasal congestion persists, it can lead to complications that include infection of the sinuses. In children, persistent hayfever and a blocked nose can make them restless at night and tired the next day.

Eyes

Exposure to pollens can lead to irritation of the eyes. This may look like ‘pink eye’, but is not due to infection. The white of the eye, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed and irritated. The eye is itchy and red, and there may even be a little discharge from the eyes. Treatment is aimed at reducing the inflammation and requires the use of anti-allergy eye drops.

Asthma

Asthma flare-ups are probably the most severe complication of seasonal allergies. If you are aware that your child has asthma, now is the time to start the chronic medication again. Using the preventative treatment as winter comes to an end prepares the child and will help reduce the sensitivity of the immune system to the increased allergy load from the pollens. So get out the pumps and spacers and start treating your little one.

Remember that asthma pumps fall into two groups: prevention and relief. The preventer is usually used twice daily, and should be used for longer periods of time. The reliever is used when the chest actually gets tight and this pump helps open up the airways.

Allergy testing

In all cases of suspected allergy, it is ideal to have tests done to confirm the diagnosis. This will also help identify what exactly the triggers are. Remember allergy tests, though useful, are not completely accurate, and treating a child with a suspected allergy should ideally be done on your doctor’s advice.

Managing your child’s allergies will ensure that they’re able to enjoy this bright and beautiful season.

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