More than 40 percent of children suffer from nasal allergies, and their risk goes up if one or parents also suffer from allergic rhinitis. These kinds of allergies can fall anywhere from a minor nuisance to misery, but left unchecked they can also lead to sinus infections and are linked to the development of asthma.
Allergies can be caused by things like pollen, mold, and dust mites. If your child starts sniffling and sneezing as the snow melts, the New York Times has some excellent tips for easing symptoms and treating childhood allergies.
DO: Find the right doctor. Minor allergies can be treated by a family doctor with OTC and prescription medicine. But when allergies become more troublesome, and allergist can be a big help.
Our oldest daughter had significant chronic allergies, and allergy testing helped us to discover that dust mites are a big issue for her, but that she’s not allergic to much else. So now we know that going outside to play during high pollen counts are okay, sleeping with piles and piles of stuffed animals is not.
DON’T: Let allergies go untreated. Allergies are so easily treated today, and keeping them in check prevents complications.
DO: Use allergy medication as directed. Some prescription nasal sprays work by preventing symptoms, not treating them, so they need to be taken every day. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your child.
DO: Reduce your child’s exposure to known allergens. Keep the cat out of the bedroom, vacuum and wet-dust frequently (when your child isn’t home), wash bedding weekly and limit stuffed animals in the bedroom.
DON’T: Waste a ton of money special products. Air filters and mattress covers may help, but their worth is unproven. (An unscientific aside: Our daughter’s allergies did seem to improve after we encased her pillow and mattress, but we bought inexpensive covers from Target, so it didn’t cost much.)
And here’s one of my own: DO consider using a Neti pot. Neti pots use a warm saline solution to gently wash the nasal passages. They are easy to use (though it takes a little getting used to) and relieve symptoms almost instantly, without the side effects of medication. As always, ask your doctor first.
Does your child suffer from nasal allergies? What are your best tips?