I don’t want to talk too soon, but it looks as if Spring has sprung! As lovely as this time of year is for most of us, some of us will be entering the season where allergies such as hay fever start to become a nuisance.
Perennial Allergic Rhinitis
Perennial allergic rhinitis or hay fever is when there are symptoms all year round that are usually mistaken for a persistent cold. Symptoms can occur shortly after exposure to an allergen and can often be triggered by allergens from the home such as house dust mites, pets or moulds.
Some children can develop sinusitis or glue ear as a result which mean they will suffer pain and perhaps temporary hearing loss as a result.
Nose bleeds are also common as children may scratch their nose persistently as the lining may be itchy.
Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (aka Hay Fever)
Hay Fever is usually caused by allergens such as pollen grasses and less commonly from trees and plants.
Hay Fever is actually more common in children over the age of 7 (NHS choices 2017).
Signs and Symptoms of Hay fever
*frequent bouts of sneezing
*blocked nose (either one or both nostrils)
*itchy ears, nose, throat and roof of the mouth)
*red, itchy or swollen eyes
What can I do ?
The first thing to do is find out what the cause of the rhinitis is and this can be done by being tested for specific allergies.
It is difficult to avoid certain allergens in the spring and summer but here are a few ideas that may help (Allergyuk.org 2017)
*Stay indoors until after midday as this will reduce the exposure
*Try to avoid going out on windy days or after thunderstorms.
*wear wraparound sunglasses to protect the eyes.
*Shower after arriving home and consider bathing the eyes.
*stay inside when grass is being mown
*Keep windows closed both at home and in the car
Medication for Hay Fever can be very effective at lessening the symptoms and improving the child’s quality of life as often the symptoms can cause difficulty with sleeping and therefore concentration levels in the day time. Also, if Hay Fever is left untreated, it can sometimes lead to more serious conditions such as Asthma.
During an allergic reaction, the immune system releases histamine which starts a cascade of allergy symptoms. Anti histamines work by blocking the action of histamine and therefore will lessen the symptoms. There are many types of antihistamines and a liquid or syrup is usually prescribed for young children. Nasal sprays and eye drops are also available. A pharmacist is the best person to discuss your child’s symptoms with as they are best placed to recommend the best treatment for your child.
Nasal sprays are primarily used to deliver antihistamines and steroids directly into the nasal passages however nasal sprays and steroid sprays are not generally used in children under the age of 4 years. Although adults can buy steroid nasal sprays over the counter, children will need to be assessed and have a prescription.
Hay Fever and Asthma
Hay Fever and Asthma are closely linked. According to Asthma UK, it is thought that between 20% and 60% of people with Hay Fever will also have Asthma. Approximately 80% of people with Asthma will also have a pollen allergy which means their Asthma will be triggered by pollen.
My name is Julia Headland and I am a Registered General Nurse and a Registered Health Visitor. I am present during the day every second Friday at St Albans Nursery & Montessori Pre-School. I’m available to provide free advice and guidance on children’s health and developmental issues. The consultations are confidential and free of charge. You can see me either by making an appointment or on the off-chance when dropping off or collecting your child from the nursery. If it is difficult to get time to see me in the nursery, we could also have a telephone consultation.