If your child seems to have the never-ending sniffles all spring, you might begin to wonder if the real problem could be seasonal allergies.
Warmer weather tends to signal the end of the most intensive cold season, but if your child has a cold that seems to go on and on, the problem may be more than a cold.
As many as 40 percent of children have hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. If one or both parents have allergies, their children are more likely to develop them as well, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
How to tell if it’s a cold or allergies? If your child develops cold-like symptoms every year at the same time, you should suspect seasonal allergies, according to kidshealth.org. Some of the common symptoms to watch for include sneezing, itchy nose, itchy throat, nasal congestion, coughing and itchy or watery eyes. Clear nasal discharge is more often a sign of allergy, while a thick yellow or greenish discharge is typically a cold. Some children will also have wheezing and shortness of breath, in which case their allergies may have triggered asthma.
Seasonal allergies usually develop by the age of 10 and peak in the early 20s. Symptoms may disappear at some point in adulthood.
The FDA suggests keeping children with seasonal allergies inside when pollen counts are highest. In the spring, pollen levels are usually highest in the evening. Sunny and windy days are especially difficult for pollen allergy sufferers. Keeping the windows closed in your home and vehicle and running the air conditioner can help.
If symptoms are especially troublesome and over-the-counter medications are not enough, see your healthcare professional so your child can be tested to confirm whether allergies are the culprit. Newer drugs are available to offer relief and without causing the extreme sleepiness that was common with previous medications.