What causes spring allergies?
Pollen is the culprit and the trigger which sends our immune system into an allergic frenzy. This tiny grain is released into the air by grasses, trees, and weeds to fertilize other plants all the while sending our noses into a whirl, as well as our immune system. Our immune system treats the pollen like it is an alien, and in response to the offender will produce antibodies that blast the allergens with a release attack of chemicals (a.k.a. histamines). Once introduced into the bloodstream, these histamines wreak havoc and make your child’s throat itch, nose drain, and eyes tear.
The more pollen in the air, the higher the pollen count, and the more severe the symptoms of allergy attack. The pollen count measures the amount of allergens in the air in grains per cubic meter. You can find out the daily pollen count in your area by watching your local weather forecast or by visiting www.aaaai.org.
Here are some of the biggest spring allergy offenders:
Grasses and weeds
Symptoms and Signs of Allergic Rhinitis
Itchy, watery eyes
post nasal drip
sore throat, or “scratchy” throat
asthma symptoms: wheezing, shortness of breath
“allergic shiners”: darkened skin under the eyes
allergic “salute” sign: rubbing the nose in an upward manner leaves a permanent crease on the nasal tip
How to Treat Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis
Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin), or cetrizine (Zyrtec) will help by relieving your child’s runny nose and post nasal drip, as well as itchy eyes. Nasal saline sprays are good for irrigating out the pollen deposition inside the nose. Nasal steroid sprays can help shrink the nasal mucosa (inside lining) and relieve swelling. There are also medications, called leukotriene modifiers, which can help prevent the onset of symptoms of allergic rhinitis which can be taken a couple of weeks before the onset of allergy season to help control symptoms. Of course these medications should be discussed with your provider first before trying them on your child, as some may have potential side effects or can interact with other medications your child may be taking.