Let’s be honest, we all love the south for its warm temperatures. We don’t love freezing cold weather– we much prefer the days when the sun shines endlessly, and it’s warm enough to eat sno-balls in our flip-flops. And, now, spring is starting to peek through, and we are ready! Unfortunately for some of us, the welcome sight of sun shine and blooming flowers means the dreaded allergy season is upon us – the time of year for itchy eyes, runny noses and eighteen sneezes in a row as you approach that blooming ligustrum. As adults, we have it covered. Head to the pharmacy and grab something over the counter or begin taking the allergy medicine your primary care physician prescribed.
But what should I do about my kids’ symptoms? How do I keep them from feeling miserable during such a beautiful time in the south?
Allergens are harmless particles of dust, mold, pollen, etc that can trigger an allergic reaction in a sensitized individual. In a child with allergic tendencies, his immune system reacts to the allergens as a foreign invader which triggers a host of responses like sneezing, runny nose, cough, swollen nasal tissue, itchy or red eyes, dark circles or sore throat. Worse even, if your child has asthma or eczema, allergens can trigger wheezing or cause the eczema to flair up.
If your child has seasonal allergies, he will only display symptoms during certain times of the year since these allergies are triggered by various pollens such as grass, tree and ragweed. The levels depend on the living area and the time of the year. However, some children have perennial allergies, meaning they have symptoms year-round. The usual culprits in this situation include household allergens like dust mites, animal dander, and tobacco smoke.
According to CNN in 2014, Baton Rouge was ranked #3 in America as the worst place to live with seasonal spring allergies. (Lucky for us, football season is in the fall!) This poll garnered its results from two things: the average pollen level (most weather apps can tell you this on a daily basis if you’re curious) and the number of allergy specialists practicing in the area. With that in mind, it’s probably no wonder your medicine cabinet looks like the cold and allergy aisle of Walgreens! A little more not-so-good news: If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s likely your children will too.
So, how can you ALL thrive through the spring allergy season?
Let’s start with milder cases. There are several over the counter medications targeted toward allergy relief. The class of medications known as antihistamines is available at your local pharmacy in liquid, chewable tablets, and even nasal spray formulations. Itchy, watery eyes can also be treated with prescription antihistamine eye drops. Tip: Start your child on the antihistamine before the allergies start to flair! For instance, if your child has spring allergies every year, start an over the counter antihistamine now to prevent symptoms.
If he/she has never tried allergy medications in the past, discuss appropriate dosing with your pediatrician before administering any medication. Luckily, most new allergy preparations are non-drowsy and shouldn’t affect your child’s energy level. For more severe or persistent cases, a referral to a pediatric allergist may be beneficial in order to pinpoint the offending agents. If your child has eczema and/or asthma and allergies, you definitely want to discuss the best course of action with your pediatrician.
Knowing what triggers you or your child’s allergies is key to preventing them, as avoidance is really the best treatment. But if you want your family to enjoy the beautiful weather that south Louisiana has to offer in the coming months, it’s great to know that most allergy-sufferers can have their symptoms easily managed in their primary care physician’s office.
No need to miss the next festival, crawfish boil, or soccer game. Bring on the tank tops and flip flops – start building your allergy-fighting arsenal now so that the spring doesn’t catch you by surprise! And make sure you talk to your pediatrician about the best course of action for you and your family.
Dr. Christina Holmes
Dr. Holmes was born in Baton Rouge. She earned her MD from the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport in 2011 and completed her Pediatric residency in 2014 through Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. After being named Most Outstanding Resident for the 2012-13 term and Primary Care Chief Resident in the 2013-14 term, she joined The Baton Rouge Clinic in 2014. She is a member of the American Academy of Physicians. She’s also a mom. You can contact her at [email protected] or call 225-769-4044
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by The Baton Rouge Clinic, the premier multi-specialty clinic in the region – bringing an excellent level of care to more than 250,000 patients throughout Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. Learn more on their website and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.