Top Tips for Managing Your Child’s Hay Fever
The summer is finally here, the sun is out and the temperatures are on the rise but so is the increase of the summer sniffles, sneezes and streaming eyes. A trip to the park, a bike ride or an afternoon in the garden can be a miserable experience for children who are suffering from hay fever so we asked Allergry UK, the leading national patient charity for people living with all types of allergy, to share with us their top tips for managing the symptoms when at home or out and about.
Hurrah! Summer’s finally here and it’s time to open the door to a whole new world of outdoor exploration for your toddler or little one(s). There’s plenty of new terrain for tiny hands and feet – whether it’s playing on the lawn in the back garden or enjoying parks and play areas. But if your child has the following symptoms they could be within the 40 per cent of children in the UK with hay fever and an allergy to pollen¹.
· Runny nose
· Rubbing their nose
· Itchy nose
· Blocked nose
· Sneezing, and/ or red, itchy watery eyes,
It is important to know that some of these symptoms are also seen in other common childhood conditions such as those caused by an infection for example a cold. If you are unsure what is causing your child’s symptoms it is important to discuss this with a health care professional such as your GP.
Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) can affect children of all ages. Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen grains released from grass, trees or weeds. It can start as early as February/March (in the case of tree pollen) right through to September (for weed pollen). However, 95 per cent of those with hay fever are affected by grass pollen², which tends to occur Mid-May to August.
Apart from unpleasant and often distracting symptoms during the day, symptoms like congestion and a blocked nose can make things like feeding difficult and may also disrupt sleep, making your little one irritable and unable to settle at night. It is common for children with hay fever to also have asthma, and it is important to ensure that hay fever symptoms are well managed to ensure that this does not impact on their asthma control. An over-tired child is unable to concentrate on activities the next day or cope with their normal routine. So what can you do to manage your child’s condition and reduce their exposure to pollen?
The good news is that there are many different treatments for hay fever. Antihistamines can help to treat hay fever and come in a variety of forms to suit individual needs including syrups for children who do not swallow tablets. Always seek advice on medications or treatments from a pharmacist or doctor and they should be able to guide on the most suitable type of treatment for how problematic your child’s symptoms are. Sometimes antihistamines on their own will not be effective and a steroid nasal spray and/or eye drops may be needed. Other treatments include a saline nasal spray or wash out can be used to rinse out the inside of the nose which may help alleviate symptoms. Allergen barrier balms applied on the outside may also help in prevent pollen from entering the nose.
– Monitor the pollen forecast daily (provided by the Met Office) to help you plan ahead. Pollen peaks on dry, warm days or sometimes after a thunderstorm
– Avoid putting washing on the line outside when the pollen count is high, as pollen can stick to clothes and can be brought inside the home
– Keep windows closed in the house (and the car) during peak pollen times. Pollen levels are highest early morning and early evening
– Symptoms can worsen after playing outside or near sources of pollen like grass, trees and weeds and trees. Instead consider indoor activities and do a fun ‘summer-themed’ activity – paint a sunny scene or hold an indoor picnic
– Let your child’s nursery/preschool/childcare provider know about their condition so they can take precautions for outdoor play times. You could even suggest they hold an activity to educate the other children (and staff) about the condition
– If your child does go outside, ensure their clothes are changed once indoors, and their hands and face are washed with a damp cloth. Wash their hair and body in the bath that evening
– For itchy, watery eyes, provide wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen grains getting in their eyes
If symptoms persist, take your child to their GP who can prescribe further treatment, or refer to an allergist, if necessary. For information and advice contact Allergy UK’s helpline (01322 619898) or visit: www.allergyuk.org
¹ Pawankar R, et al, 2013 (Source: Allergy UK)
² Met Office (metoffice.gov.uk)