As spring rolls around, around 7.7% of adults and 7.2% of children start experiencing sniffles, sneezing, or irritated eyes. These seasonal allergies happen around the same time every year due to allergens in the environment, like pollen or spores released by plants. If you have an allergy to these allergens, your body responds by releasing histamines, causing coughing, congestion, and itching.
Other symptoms of hay fever may include a combination of:
- Runny or itchy nose
- Red, irritated eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Wheezing or trouble breathing (uncommon)
If your child experiences difficulty breathing, fever, or develops a rash, you may need to seek medical help immediately.
As common as these allergy symptoms are, they can feel uncomfortable and may last for several days, leading to unhappy kids. There are a few ways to help children who suffer from hay fever year after year find some relief.
1. Stay indoors and close the windows.
While kids need to play outside and get some vitamin D from the sun, the dry weather and pollen may make their hay fever worse during allergy season. Windy weather is even worse because it spreads the pollen and other allergens from plants. When possible, keep your kids indoors and make sure to close the windows since the fresh air will still bring in pollen.
2. Wash and change after being outside.
Even during the pandemic, it may not be completely possible to keep kids indoors all the time. Whether they are coming home from school, a playdate, or the grocery store, pollen can cling to skin and clothes during the allergy season, which is then brought into the house. If your children suffer from seasonal allergies, make sure they change their clothes when they get home and wash their hands and face after being outside.
3. Use premium tissues.
While cheap tissues may seem like a logical buy regularly, you can help your child feel more relief during the allergy season by purchasing softer and slightly more expensive tissue boxes. Look for ultra-soft brands that include lotion or aloe to soothe runny noses.
4. Stay hydrated.
Sneezing and blowing their noses leads to moisture constantly leaving your child’s body. It can leave them feeling thirsty, so it’s important to make sure they stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle on hand for them and encourage them to keep drinking consistently.
5. Attend to sore throats.
It’s never fun having a sore throat, especially when it’s due to hay fever or post-nasal drip. Warm water with honey and lemon can help soothe the throat, and the steam can help relieve some sinus congestion as well. Gargling warm water with salt can also help ease the pain of a sore throat. You can make this by adding 1-2 tablespoons of table salt to an 8 oz cup of warm water.
6. Try warm or cold compresses.
When your child’s eyes feel itchy, use a cool compress to ease the itchiness and to help them avoid rubbing their eyes. If they are congested, use a warm compress on their face to help soothe any pain or sinus pressure they may be feeling.
7. Rub on petroleum jelly.
Your child’s nose may be red and raw from blowing, but you can help ease their discomfort and encourage natural healing of their skin by rubbing a little petroleum jelly on them.
8. Take allergy medication regularly.
Most people only take allergy medication when they feel symptoms and immediately stop when those go away. However, medicine can be more effective if taken consistently during the entire allergy season. It is important to talk to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician about when to start and stop taking medication. You can buy common allergy medications over the counter without a prescription, including nasal sprays for sneezing and stuffy noses, eye drops for itching eyes, and oral antihistamines.
9. Keep the air humid.
If the air in your house is dry and stuffy, a humidifier can help circulate the air and bring some moisture. It can help make breathing easier for both you and your child. However, make sure it does not get too humid inside your house. Anything over 40% may promote the growth of indoor allergens like dust mites or mold.
10. Purchase a HEPA filter.
A HEPA filter is an air purifier that can be very helpful during allergy season. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and it is designed to trap minute contaminants in the environment. It can help reduce the number of allergens in your home, such as dust, pollen, dander, and mold.
Keeping your child comfortable when they experience hay fever can help make them and you feel happier. With the right preventative measures and medications, your child can enjoy more of their day and spend less time dwelling on their discomfort.
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.