Spring is no cause for joy for a child with a pollen allergy
Spring is just around the corner and most children look forward to it being warmer and they can run around outside again. For children who have hay fever sufferers, symptoms such as watery eyes and runny nose are sometimes so strong that they are forced to stay home.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as pollen allergy or hay fever, is typical symptoms of tingling nose and eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and watery discharge from the nose and eyes. Other possible symptoms are headache, fatigue, insomnia, and asthma attacks. All of these symptoms can make a football game, bike ride, or picnic a real ordeal.
Help for children with mild symptoms
You can help your child by washing their face and hair when they come in from playing outside, as pollen can stick to their skin and hair. Keep windows closed, especially in the morning and early evening when the pollen is being released. In times of high pollen count, you should not hang up your laundry to dry outside. It is also helpful to keep the windows closed in the car.
Children with moderate to severe symptoms
If your child has not yet been diagnosed with a pollen allergy, but symptoms make life difficult for him during the pollen season, you should make an appointment with the pediatrician. The doctor will ask you how the symptoms have progressed so far and will arrange a skin prick test or a simple blood test. In a skin prick test, a tiny amount of allergen is introduced into the skin with a spade. If there is an allergy, reddening, and swelling will appear within 20 minutes, which will subside after a few hours. The doctor will then discuss the various treatment options with you and your child. The right treatment is also very important in the long term because an untreated pollen allergy is one of the main risk factors for the development of asthma. This can be explained by the so-called “allergic march” – a term that describes how allergic diseases develop in the course of life: Studies show that children who suffer from allergic rhinitis can develop asthma later in life. About 30% of all patients with hay fever develop an asthma disease in the further course.
Many treatment options for children
You will find that there are many ways to treat your child’s hay fever – from over-the-counter and prescription symptomatic medicines to longer-term therapies like allergen immunotherapy. Although both treatment approaches have been shown to alleviate the symptoms and end the feeling of illness, there are some differences:
Symptomatic treatments work while you are taking the drug, but have no long-term effects. They reduce allergy symptoms, but unlike allergen immunotherapy, they do not create tolerance for the allergen in the body. Most symptomatic therapies are available over the counter. Typical examples are antihistamines, nasal steroids, and decongestants.
Allergen immunotherapy is a form of treatment that is of particular interest to children for whom symptomatic therapy does not provide sufficient symptom relief. In order to achieve a long-term effect, the duration of immunotherapy over a period of three years is recommended. The treatment can be administered in the form of injections or tablets that are taken at home (first use in the practice, waiting time 30 minutes). The main difference between the symptomatic and immunotherapeutic approaches is that immunotherapy induces tolerance in the body to the allergen. The choice of the right treatment option for your child should always be made in close consultation with the doctor.
ALK is a world leader in allergen immunotherapy.
Further information on the subject of allergies: www.dieallergie.ch