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Help your child manage seasonal allergies

July 03, 2024

While seasonal allergies are not life-threatening like some insect or food allergies, they can still negatively affect your kid’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 19 percent of children younger than 18 in the U.S. experience seasonal allergies (also called hay fever or rhinitis). Unfortunately, kids with seasonal allergies who live in the Houston area are especially hard hit. In 2024, Houston was ranked the 14th most challenging place to live with allergies by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. St. Luke’s Health can help your family manage pediatric allergies whenever they appear.

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies happen when your child experiences allergic symptoms to an environmental contaminant during certain times of the year. Most seasonal allergies are caused by reactions to grass, tree or weed pollens. Because most plants reproduce during the spring or summer, those months are the peak of allergy season. 

Some plants release pollen at other times of the year. For example, the dreaded Texas “cedar fever” peaks during December and January. Kids with mold allergies may also experience worsening symptoms in the fall and winter, as leaf and other molds can increase in cooler weather.

Signs Your Child Has Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergy symptoms are often similar to those of a mild cold. The difference is that allergy symptoms last longer than a week and develop at the same time every year. Signs of allergies include:

  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Itchy, runny or bloodshot eyes

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Sneezing

  • Sniffling

  • Throat clearing

Wheezing or shortness of breath may also be signs of allergy-induced asthma. While allergies do not cause asthma, children who have asthma can have worsening symptoms triggered by allergens.

Managing Your Child’s Allergies

Parents can take action to help make life more comfortable for children with seasonal allergies. Some ways to reduce symptoms include:

  • Changing clothes immediately after outdoor play. Pollen spreads all over the body as more time is spent outside. Putting on clean clothes (and taking a quick shower or bath, if possible) after time outdoors limits exposure.

  • Keeping windows closed. Fresh air may feel delightful, but it lets in pollen.

  • Limiting time outdoors when needed. Pollen levels spike on late summer mornings when ragweed pollen peaks and are highest during summer evenings when grass pollen abounds. Use a weather app to track pollen counts so you can try to plan which days to stay indoors.

  • Running the air conditioner (and changing air filters). When you can’t keep the windows open, these steps help circulate clean air and purify pollen that may have gotten inside.

  • Washing sheets and vacuuming rugs frequently. Cleaning more frequently during high pollen times can help limit allergen exposure inside.

Seasonal Allergies May Need Medical Treatment

Many nonprescription medications are available to help treat your child’s seasonal allergies. Before giving any medications to your child, discuss their symptoms with your St. Luke’s Health pediatrician. Allergy medications are commonly used and generally safe, but they can also have side effects that are stronger in kids than in adults. Your pediatrician can determine whether symptoms are due to seasonal allergies and then recommend the types of medications that are best for your child.

If over-the-counter medications and pollen mitigation tactics do not improve symptoms, your child may need to see a specialist. An allergist can test to identify which specific allergens are triggers and may recommend immunotherapy—weekly shots to promote immunity to mild allergens—in some cases.

A pediatrician can identify what’s causing allergic symptoms and recommend ways to help relieve them. Find a doctor at SLH today to get started.

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