Treating Seasonal Allergies

Dos and Don'ts of Treating Kids' Allergy Symptoms

Ragweed is a common allergy trigger in the fall.
Ragweed is a common allergy trigger in the fall. Photo by Elena Elisseeva

Now that so many allergy medications are available over-the-counter without a prescription, many parents treat their kids' allergy symptoms on their own once allergy season comes around.

Treating Seasonal Allergies

While that can often be a good idea if your child definitely has allergies and easy to control allergy symptoms, these over-the-counter allergy medications -- such as Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), or Zaditor (ketotifen fumarate) antihistamine eye drops -- are sometimes not enough to give your child relief.

Even steroid nasal sprays are now available over-the-counter without a prescription, including Flonase and Nasacort, but still, they need to be used properly.

At that point, parents should consider a trip to their pediatrician for further treatment of a child's allergies.

Seasonal Allergy Treatment Dos and Don'ts

Whether you are trying to treat your child's allergies on your own or you are already seeing a doctor, some dos and don'ts that might help you get the most allergy relief and minimize side effects include that you:

Do treat your child's seasonal allergies by:

  • asking your pediatrician if an over-the-counter allergy medication or one of the generic equivalents might be appropriate to treat your child's allergies, especially if you have never tried them before and/or if newer allergy treatments are too expensive or not covered by your insurance
  • asking your pediatrician about trying different allergy treatments or different combinations of medications, such as Singulair (montelukast), Allegra (fexofenadine), Claritin with a steroid nasal spray, or an antihistamine nasal spray, etc.
  • consider seeing a pediatric allergist for further management if your child is not getting any relief from his allergy symptoms
  • keeping track of when your child has allergy symptoms and the daily pollen counts so that you can figure out his allergy triggers and which allergy seasons he might need to take allergy medicines; then try to remember to start his allergy treatment before that season starts next year
  • trying to minimize your child's exposure to allergy triggers -- including pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, etc. -- by having your child wash his hands and face when he comes in from playing outside; consider changing his clothes before he comes inside and then taking a shower or bath right away

Don't treat your child's seasonal allergies by...

  • combining allergy treatments with the same ingredients; so for example, don't give Zyrtec and Claritin on the same day, since they are both antihistamines
  • assuming that every runny nose and sneeze is caused by allergies, especially if your child has a fever or green or yellow nasal discharge, which are likely just cold symptoms
  • forgeting to give your child his allergy medicine every day if he has seasonal allergies and has allergy symptoms on all or most days of the week
  • allowing seasonal allergies to interfere with your child's outdoor activities too much, especially if you haven't seen your pediatrician or a pediatric allergy to maximize your chances of getting some real allergy relief
  • dismissing the usefulness of allergy testing and/or allergy shots, especially if in addition to not getting allergy relief, your child's allergy symptoms are causing asthma attacks, recurrent sinus infections, or other complications

Treating allergies isn't always easy, but with the proper medication or combination or allergy medications, your child should get enough relief from his allergy symptoms, even with hard to control allergies, that they don't interfere with his daily activities.

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