Springtime is here and allergy season is upon us. There are many different types of allergy, but for this discussion I am talking about what people usually call hayfever and asthma. Typical allergic rhinitis (hayfever) consists of runny, stuffy, and itchy nose and sometimes itchy, watery eyes as well. If these symptoms last for weeks at a time (or longer) then they are likely a sign of allergy. In the Santa Clara Valley where we live, we have pollen most of the year and that pollen causes much of the allergy I see every day. Children may also be allergic to dust, mold and pets as well. Treatment may then consist of trying to create a healthier environment in the home by reducing dust or pet exposure. Trees start pollinating here in January or February and that season goes to the summer, then we have some grass and weed pollens. If your child suffers a lot from allergy you may want to try some simple over-the-counter medication like Claritin or Zyrtec. More severe cases may require a nasal steroid like Flonase or Nasonex for example. If the symptoms are especially severe we might consider a referral to a Pediatric Allergy specialist.
The term asthma refers to the tendency of a child’s air tubes (bronchi) to become inflamed which results in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Wheezing is mainly a noise made when breathing out (exhalation) but may also be heard while breathing in as well (inhalation). In young children (under 5) asthma is mostly triggered by respiratory infections, but as children grow older asthma may be more associated with pollen season. There are many ways to treat asthma from oral medications to metered inhalers (little puffing devices) to nebulizers (a machine which puts medicine into a vapor you breathe in for about 10 minutes per treatment). Anything this significant will require a visit to the Pediatrician. Allergies tend to run in families so if there is a strong family history of allergy, then that will make the diagnosis more likely. Regardless, in this modern era there is plenty of treatment available if your children is suffering from allergies.