Relief From Spring Allergies

Pediatric Allergy Basics

Trees that can trigger spring allergy symptoms.
Trees are a common trigger of spring allergy symptoms. Photo by Peter Cade

With the first day of spring, we may get warmer weather, spring showers, flowers, and more fun times outside for kids, but it also signals the start of spring allergy season.

Spring Allergy Symptoms

In addition to a runny nose and sneezing, your child with spring allergies may have:

  • watery, itchy eyes
  • dark circles under his eyes (allergic shiners), and an
  • itchy nose
  • itchy throat
  • congestion
  • coughing

And of course, these symptoms will be more likely or worse during your child's allergy season.

Spring Allergy Triggers

What makes allergy symptoms bad in spring?

While everyone likes to blame the flowers, it is usually the trees that are pollinating at this time. In contrast, pollinating grasses often trigger allergies in the summer and weeds in the fall.

Although you can't completely avoid these seasonal allergy triggers, you can take steps to decrease your child's exposure, including keeping windows closed, washing your child's face after he has been outside during allergy season, and changing clothes as soon as he gets home, etc.

Relief from Spring Allergies

Although spring allergies are common and can make your kids miserable, fortunately there are many medications to help control your child's symptoms. Even younger infants and children can now take allergy medicines to help prevent and control their allergies.

Commonly used allergy medications include antihistamines, such as:

  • Claritin, which is now over-the-counter and available in many generic versions of loratadine, including Alavert, Dimetapp ND, and store brands from Rite-Aid and Wal-mart. It is available as a syrup for children over age 2 years and a tablet or disintegrating tablet for children over age 6.
  • Zyrtec, available over-the-counter (cetirizine) as a syrup for children over age 2 years, a chewable tablet, and a regular tablet for older kids.
  • Allegra, until recently, was available only as a pill, which limited its use for younger children. Allegra is now available as an oral suspension and so there is now another option for treating young kids with allergies, even if they can't swallow pills.
  • Clarinex (newer prescription form of Claritin) is now available as a syrup for children over age 6 months, a disintegrating RediTab for children over age 6 years, and a tablet for kids over age 12.
  • Zyzal (newer prescription form of Zyrtec) is available for infants who are at least 6 months old with perennial allergic rhinitis and two years with seasonal allergies.

Reviewing these medications, you can see that you now have an options to treat younger infants with seasonal allergies, as Clarinex and Zyzal areĀ  FDA approved for children over age 6 months. But then again, before Claritin and Zyrtec became over-the-counter, they were FDA approved for children who were at least 6 months old too.

In addition to antihistamines, Singulair is a medication that can be used treat seasonal allergies in children over age 6 months. It is also FDA approved to treat asthma in children over age 12 months. It is available as an oral granule packet that can be sprinkled on your child's food or a chewable tablet, which makes it easy to give younger children.

And don't forget steroid nasal sprays. Although younger children especially don't like them, they can be quite effective at controlling your child's allergy symptoms.

Commonly used steroid nasal sprays include:

  • Nasonex, which can be used in children 2 years of age and older
  • Flonase, which can be used in children 4 years of age and older and is now available over-the-counter.
  • Nasacort, which can be used in children 2 years of age and older and is now available over-the-counter.
  • Omnaris, which can be used in children 6 years of age and older
  • Rhinocort, which can be used in children 6 years of age and older and is now available over-the-counter
  • Veramyst, which can be used in children 2 years of age and older

Astelin is another type of nasal spray that can be used for children 5 years of age and older. It is not a steroid though. Instead, it is an antihistamine nasal spray and may be a good alternative to steroids for some children. Patanase is another steroid free, antihistamine nasal spray for kids.

OTC Allergy Medicines

In addition to loratadine and cetirizine and the steroid nasal sprays, there are many other over-the-counter allergy medicines available that you can give your child.

Many, including Benadryl, Triaminic Cold & Allergy, and Dimetapp Cold & Allergy, can make your child sleepy and likely shouldn't be used on a regular or daily basis. A non-sedating, once a day, allergy medication would be a better choice for your child's daily allergy symptoms.

NasalCrom is another over-the-counter allergy medicine that can help to control and prevent your child's allergy symptoms. Like some other OTC allergy medicines, NasalCrom is a nasal spray, but has another downside in that it must be used 3-4 times a day.

Uncontrollable Allergy Symptoms

If your child has hard to control allergy symptoms that don't get under good control with some combination of these allergy medicines, it may be time for some allergy testing or a trip to a Pediatric Allergist.

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