Hay Fever and Children
Hay Fever is essentially an allergic reaction to pollen. It can be triggered by pollen from trees, grass, or weeds. Tree pollen tends to be released first usually in Spring and is usually due to Birch, Elder or Hazel trees. Grass pollen is generally a little later during late Spring or early Summer and weed pollen can be released at any stage from early Spring to late Autumn. So really we are talking March to October! A person can be allergic to just one type of pollen or all types so the symptoms of hay fever and when they arrive can vary greatly from child to child. Hay fever can also be caused by spores from mould or fungi.
Hay fever tends to affect those with a family history of allergies a little more, especially those with asthma or eczema. It can also be intermittent – meaning that it comes and goes, or it can be persistent – meaning it is present all the time. The severity can depend on the level of allergy. It actually tends to affect children over seven years and generally affects boys more than girls but the numbers even out as age increases and men and women are equally affected. So hay fever is not common in young babies and children so it’s worth investigating with the doctor what the cause of the allergic reaction is for sure before assuming it’s a pollen allergy. Approximately 20% of people suffer from hay fever.
Symptoms of hay fever:
- A runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- A scratchy throat
- Nasal congestion
Hay fever can often be misdiagnosed as a virus, but in essence a virus should clear after one to two weeks whereas hay fever will be a longer term problem.
How to treat Hay fever:
- An oral antihistamine solution may be used if your child is over two years of age.
- Zirtek solution is a product licensed in Ireland for the treatment of seasonal hay fever and can be taken by children aged 2-6 years at a dose of 2.5ml twice daily as required. Children aged 6-12 years can take 5mls twice daily. Always check the instructions on the pack as recommended doses may change and the product may not be suitable for your child.
- Phenergan Solution can also be used for children over two years of age for allergic reactions. Children 2-5 years should take one to three 5ml spoonfuls (5-15mg) once daily at bedtime. This product can cause drowsiness, this is why it is suitable for night time use rather than day time use. If given during the day please supervise your child constantly after administration. Again please check the information on the pack to ensure it is suitable for your child and to ensure you are giving the correct dose.
- Opticrom Allergy Eyedrops – These eye drops can be used for any age child or adult. They soothe itchy and watery eyes and can be used at a dosage of 1-2 drops up to four times a day. I would lie your child down to put eye drops in – just wash your hands and then pull down their lower eye lid and drop in the drops. It is normal for them to blink afterwards but just try not to let them rub their eyes after the drops are in – it’s handy to have something to distract them nearby like a toy or a treat!
How to prevent or minimise hay fever:
- Keep your child inside if the pollen count is above 50 (easier said than done…!)
- Let your child wear wrap-around sunglasses to stop the pollen from contacting their eyes.
- Shower your child and change their clothes if they have been playing outside in a high pollen count so that the allergen is removed.
- Keep windows closed on days of a high pollen count.
- Don’t hang your child’s clothes or bedding outside to dry as they may become covered in pollen which will cause irritation at night or during the day.
- Don’t keep fresh flowers in the house (a good excuse for the men not to buy any!!)
- Hoover regularly.
- Dust with a damp cloth regularly.
- If outdoors avoid areas where grass is being cut or has recently been cut.
- Keep car windows closed when driving.
When to see the doctor:
- Hay fever can be mild and may just affect a child on sunny days in the summer. In this case there is no real need to see the doctor.
- If hay fever is persistent and your child is uncomfortable you should see the doctor to ensure hay fever is the problem and it is not an allergy to something else such as dust or pet hair.
- If your child is under two years and you suspect hay fever then you should see the doctor as they will be able let you know your treatment options – hay fever is most common after seven years of age.
- If your child has hay fever it may develop into a secondary sinus infection or cough – see the doctor if you think this is affecting your child.
- If you cannot get the symptoms of hay fever under control using the antihistamines mentioned above.
Thanks for reading, I hope you have found this helpful! As always please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on the WonderBaba facebook page (www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare ) or by phoning me at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 01-2600262 as I’m always happy to help 🙂