Definition and Symptoms
Allergies (aka allergic rhinitis) are an allergic reaction in the nose caused by something in the air such as grasses, weeds, tree pollen, animals, pollution, smoke, etc.
-Nose: Clear runny nose, sneezing, sniffing, and nose itching (occurs in 100% of patients), with occasional cough.
-Eyes: Itchy, red, and watery eyes (Occurs in 70% of patients)
-Sinuses and Ears: May have feeling of fullness or congestion
-Throat: May feel scratchy or “tickly” at times. Voice may be hoarse.
-Skin: may be itchy at times
How to tell allergies from a cold (virus)
-Allergy symptoms happen during pollen season and occur around the same time year after year.
-A typical cold virus lasts 1-3 weeks, but allergies can last much longer, 6-8 weeks or more.
-Both can have a runny nose and watery eyes. Allergies often cause itchy eyes and nose, not typical with a cold.
-If there are symptoms of fever or sore throat, this is likely due to a cold virus. Allergies do not cause fever.
Management of symptoms
Seasonal allergies typically do not occur until children are 2 years or older. If you suspect your child may have seasonal allergies, there is no harm in trying an over the counter antihistamine like Zyrtec (dose listed below), and it the medication is helpful, likely your child is suffering from allergies (of course, he/she could have a cold as well, and symptoms from a cold will not be helped by antihistamines).
To determine what your child may be allergic to, it’s helpful to look at the local pollen count on days your child is experiencing symptoms. There are helpful phone apps and websites to easily determine this such as: KXAN allergy forecast , Web MD allergy App , or Pollen.com
When allergy symptoms are milder, they can often be controlled with over the counter antihistamines as needed. However, when symptoms are more persistent, it is helpful to take antihistamines daily until the allergy count lowers (often 4 weeks or more). Additionally, for more persistent or severe symptoms, it’s helpful to add daily nasal steroid medication (starting before the particular allergy usually occurs and through that allergen’s entire pollen season). If eye allergies are also problematic, there are over the counter eye allergy medications that can be helpful too. (See medication dosages on next page)
Additionally, it’s important to reduce pollen exposure in the following ways:
- Use a couple drops of saline nose drops or spray (available over the counter) in each nostril after coming inside. Then blow the nose and repeat as often as needed (Saline nose drops can also be made at home by mixing 1/2 teaspoon table salt into 1 cup of bottled or boiled water).
- Shower off when coming inside and wash all clothes worn outside.
- Keep windows in car and home closed and stay inside on windy days when the pollen count is high.
Dosages of allergy medication can be found here: Allergy medication dosages
Call our office If...
⦁ Symptoms are not better in 2-3 days after starting allergy medicine
⦁ You think your child needs to be seen or your child becomes worse