May 26, 2023

Top Tips to Manage Your Child’s Spring Allergies

For millions of spring allergy sufferers, the season brings more than blooms and sunshine. The primary care staff at Elliot Health System offer some advice to help.

How to Manage Nasal Allergy Symptoms

Often called Hay Fever, nasal allergies occur in about 15% of children. Usually, nose and eye symptoms can be brought under control by giving antihistamines. Since pollens are in the air every day during pollen season, we recommend that antihistamines be given daily for two months or longer, until the worst of the season passes.

Antihistamines are the drug of choice for nasal allergies and will reduce runny nose, nasal itching, and sneezing. For children over one year old, Benadryl is very effective and available over the counter (OTC). It should be given every six to eight hours (see dosage table on packaging). The bedtime antihistamine dosage is especially important for healing the lining of the nose. Use this older style of antihistamine with caution since it may cause drowsiness.

Newer, long-acting antihistamines such as loratadine (Zyrtec) or cetirizine (Claritin) have been around for decades. They are approved for children over two years old, last 18 to 24 hours, and are available over the counter. They are a popular choice due to their long-lasting effects and because they cause less sedation than older antihistamines (Benadryl). However, loratadine and cetirizine do not control hay fever symptoms as well as older antihistamines and occasionally allow breakthrough symptoms before 24 hours. See packaging for dosage details and ask your pharmacist for generic brands which may cost less.

How to Manage Eye Allergy Symptoms

Itchy eyes are among the most common spring allergy symptoms. For eye symptoms, gently rinse or wash the pollen or other allergic substance off the face and eyelids. Then apply a cold compress. Usually, an oral antihistamine will adequately control the allergic symptoms of the eye, but if the eyes remain itchy, try over the counter antihistamine eyedrops.

Ketotifen is our first choice of OTC antihistamine eyedrops since they are a proven safe and effective product for children three years old and up. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a brand like Zaditor or Alaway. We suggest administering one drop every 12 hours. For severe allergies, the continuous daily use of ketotifen eyedrops during pollen season will give the best control.

Our second choice for eye drops is an antihistamine/vasoconstrictive drop such as Naphcon A, Opcon A, Visine A. These products are approved for children six years and older. Use only one drop per eye every eight hours as necessary. Avoid vasoconstrictor eyedrops without an antihistamine (without an A in the name) because they only treat the redness, not the cause. Also, avoid continuous use for over five days or your child may suffer rebound red eyes causing their eyes to look worse.

Since pollen allergies recur each year, we need to learn to control the symptoms. Avoidance and antihistamines are your first line of defense. Call your doctor if symptoms aren't controlled in two days with continuous antihistamines or if you have any questions or concerns. We are always here for you and your child at Elliot Health System!

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