The weather is warmer, the trees are greener, but your little
one is still sniffling from that endless winter cold bug. Or could
all those sniffles be the onset of seasonal allergies?
Toddlers and preschoolers usually haven't been exposed to enough
springtime pollen to develop allergies yet, according to Dr. Rachel
Story, an attending physician in the Allergy and Immunology
Department at Children's Memorial Hospital.
Story says it can be hard to tell
whether a child's congestion is from a common cold or allergies.
The key, she says, is to wait.
By the time they reach 5 or 6, however, children's runny noses
could be a reaction to spring allergens.
"Colds usually last 14 days, but allergies last much longer,"
she says. "That's true especially in the spring, when allergens are
outdoor molds, tree pollen and grass pollen that have a longer
Parents can also watch to see if children frequently itch their
eyes, rub their noses or have dark circles under their eyes.
If the symptoms are mild, she says, parents can buy
over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec (or the
generic versions), which are less likely to have sedative effects
If medications don't seem to help, Story advises taking children
to their pediatrician or an allergist. Serious allergies, when left
untreated, can impact a child's school work or result in chronic
sinus infections, she says.
Parents can also limit exposure to pollen by:
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