Fall is just around the corner with its crisp cool mornings, blue skies and colorful leaves. Fall is also a time for allergy symptoms to start or worsen.
Some allergies are easy to identify but others are not. Here are some symptoms that, if present frequently, might point to an allergy:
- Runny Nose
- Stuffy Nose
- Throat clearing
- Nose rubbing
- Itchy, watery eyes
Allergies that are present all year may worsen in the fall/winter when we spend more time inside. These allergies include dust and pet allergies.
Mold allergies are especially bothersome in the fall since mold is present in decaying vegetation and fallen leaves.
How can you help your child control allergy symptoms?
The best solution is to limit or avoid contact with allergens. If your child has a mold allergy he/she should not play in piles of fallen leaves. If your child has a dust allergy it is important to limit dust-collecting items in the bedroom, such as stuffed animals, and to dust/vacuum twice a week. Special pillow and mattress covers are available to limit exposure to dust mites.
Many over the counter medications are available and often work well. These include: Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine). If your child has no relief with these medications there are several prescription medications available that might help. Check with your child’s pediatrician for advice.
The fall can also be a difficult time for children suffering from asthma. The airways of children with asthma are inflamed and hyperactive which makes them overly sensitive. When they come in contact with an asthma 'trigger' (something that causes an asthma attack) the airways overreact by constricting (getting narrower) and becoming inflamed. Many different things can 'trigger' an asthma attack. These include exercise, cold air, viruses, air pollution, food allergens, certain fumes and tobacco smoke. Approximately 80% of children with asthma also have allergies.
Children with asthma often use 'controller medications' to prevent their asthma symptoms. These medications include Singulair (monteleukast) and inhaled steroids. These medications are sometimes discontinued in the summer when most children with asthma have fewer symptoms. It is usually a good idea to restart these medications once school starts, before asthma triggers cause problems.
Finally, influenza is a potentially serious infection for all children; especially those with asthma so don’t forget your flu shot!
Article written by Sue Gaston, M.D.