As all the trees, grasses and weeds in the neighbourhood awaken from a long winter nap, they also release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. This is pretty cool — plants looking out for other plants! However, for people with seasonal allergies, this season can be nothing short of miserable, and having a child with allergies can be a real challenge. This week we hope to provide some helpful suggestions that will make allergy season a bit more bearable.
Firstly, it is important to note that allergies and colds often display extremely similar symptoms. Understanding the subtle differences will help you to either catch your child’s cold before it progresses, or to get treatment for their allergies immediately.
If your child is producing a lot of cloudy or discoloured mucus, this is a sign of a cold, as mucus production in allergies is often runny and clear. If your child has a fever (with or without body aches) accompanying their other symptoms, this is also most likely the onset of a cold, as fevers are not a symptom of allergies.
Duration of symptoms can also be a useful clue. Cold symptoms will usually last anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks before they clear up. However, if your child has allergies, their symptoms will show up very suddenly, and will last for as long as they are exposed to specific allergens and their allergies go untreated.
If you suspect your child has allergies, the first thing you should always do before pursuing any over-the-counter drugs or other medicinal treatments is talk to your doctor, as allergies can sometimes be difficult to pin down.
While sorting out that aspect of allergies, there are a few at-home steps you can take to relieve your child’s allergies.
Unfortunately, one of the most important things to do when pollen counts are very high is to reduce your child’s exposure to the allergens. When your child is in the house, try closing as many windows as possible — and in the summer time, use an air conditioner instead of a fan, as fans can pull outdoor pollens into the house and irritate your child’s symptoms. During high pollen counts, it is best to keep your child indoors, but if they do go outside, make sure to have them shower and change clothes when they come in from playing. Track the pollen count in your area to decide which days are good for outside adventures. Here’s a handy website from the Weather Network that you might find helpful:
All the coughing and sneezing can make a child parched, which will add to their overall discomfort, so it is important to keep them hydrated. Fill their favourite sippy cup or water bottle full of water and keep it near them at all times, encouraging them to sip from it every few minutes.
If your child is experiencing itchy, watery, and red eyes, a traditional cold compress can help to soothe the irritation. Simply dip a washcloth in ice-cold water, wring the washcloth out and press it against your child’s closed eyes until it begins to lose its chill. Repeat as needed. Similarly, if your child has a lot of sinus pain and pressure, a warm compress over the face can help to relieve the pressure.
For nasal congestion in older children, you can try nasal irrigation. This involves flushing out the nasal passages using a saline solution. Saline solutions can be purchased at your local drugstore, or made at home by boiling 8oz of water and adding 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt. As opposed to a neti pot or other traditional method of nasal irrigation, use a nasal syringe for your child, as it will be a more comfortable experience for them. Nasal syringes can also be purchased at your local drugstore.
A great traditional remedy for sore and itchy throats is warm honey and lemon tea. Simply add one tablespoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of honey to a half a cup or more of hot water, stir it all together, and serve. Keep in mind, however, that honey should never be fed to children under 18 months old as it can cause infant botulism. In addition to this tea concoction, vitamin c is a great supplement to give your child with allergies as it known to be a natural anti-histamine. Before starting any vitamin, supplement, or medication regimens always speak with your doctor or pediatrician.
Lastly, to soothe the tickling cough your child may be suffering from, try to get them to do a salt water gargle in the morning and at night, as it will help to clear away any post-nasal drip collecting at the back of the throat causing that itching, tickling and persistent cough.
These tried and true, inexpensive home solutions will help to relieve your child’s allergy symptoms — and will also help with colds! Again, it is always best to speak with your pediatrician if you suspect your child may be suffering from allergies, as your pediatrician will be able to best recommend which course of treatment is best for your child. We hope that some of these simple methods for battling allergies will help your child this summer season so that they can get back out to the park and running through the grass in no time!