Spring Into Allergy Season
Up to 40 percent of children in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies. Find out what symptoms parents should look for to determine if their kid is suffering from allergies, and what treatments are available.
If welcoming the new season means welcoming more sneezing and sniffling around your house, then your kids might be suffering from allergies.
As many as 40 to 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies and at least 35.9 million Americans have seasonal allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
So how can a parent know if their kid just has a cold, or if it's more than that? And what should they do if they do suspect it is allergies? We asked Dr. Todd Mahr, Director of Pediatric Allergy/Asthma/Immunology at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to give us some insight about symptoms, steps parents should take, and treatments for allergies.
What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies in kids?
They'll have repetitive sneezing, a running nose that is a thin, clear substance ... it's not usually thick and gooey; nasal congestion, an itchy nose, ears, eyes, throat -- so they get the itchies, and watery eyes.
For perennial allergies, they'll get more nasal blockage and congestion. They'll have post-nasal drip, which is when mucus drips down the back of the throat and kids will tend to clear their throats a lot. They also do have runny nose and sneezing but it's less prominent than in kids with seasonal allergies.
Keep in mind that it varies from person to person -- one may have more sneezing, another more of a runny nose, another more of the itchies.
What's the difference between seasonal allergies and perennial allergies? And when do the different kinds of allergies act up?
For seasonal allergies, they occur mainly with pollen so it comes from plants, weeds, grasses and trees. Many parents will recognize pollen more in the Spring, you know, if they leave their car outside overnight and go out to it in the morning, they'll see a little, yellow dusting on their car ... that's pollen. And if you have pollen allergies, they'll appear when that's in the air. Classically, it comes from trees early in the spring, so in April and May. Then in May, June and July, it's the grasses that are at their worst ... so people with allergies to various kinds of grasses may feel it more. And then in the Fall, it's the weeds, so ragweed allergies may flare up in mid-August to the end of September. That's classic, but it varies in different parts of the country.
For perennial nasal allergies, it means you're dealing with it year-round and these are usually indoor allergies: so it's dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, molds and feathers. So individuals may have symptoms occasionally or throughout the year, depending on what kind of allergies they have.
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