Hay fever tends to affect children as they get older (about 6-7), and seems to be getting more common in recent years. Sometimes hay fever can be confused with a virus as many symptoms are similar. However Hay fever has clear seasonal symptoms, which occur every year at the same time (from March to October) and can last from weeks to months. If your child has a constant runny nose and is sneezing every day for this part of the year but not in the winter, it’s a sign that they may be suffering from hay fever.
Useful measures that can be taken to prevent hay fever include:
- Using a pair of wraparound sunglasses to protect their eyes and discourage rubbing
- Spreading some petroleum jelly around your child’s nostrils to help catch pollen before it is breathed in.
- Keeping windows closed when inside
- Checking the pollen forecast before planning days out. Coastal and urban areas tend to have lower pollen counts than places such as the park (especially if the grass has just been cut).
- Using air conditioning in your car rather than opening windows
- If your child has been out in the garden, wash their hands and faces and change their clothes as soon as they come back into the house. Pollen attaches to the fibre of clothes and can continue to cause symptoms over the next few hours.
- For the same reason don’t dry your child’s clothes and bed sheets outside on high pollen days
Once hay fever has been diagnosed, your pharmacist will be able to recommend a number of strategies. The mainstay of treatment is an antihistamine. Antihistamine liquids are available over the counter for children from the age of 2 yrs. Using a saline nasal rinse like Neilmed may also be helpful, and can be used in young children. Prevalin Allergy Kids is a nasal spray for relief and protection from sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose and itchy/watery eyes. It is non-drowsy, and antihistamine and steroid free, and can be used in conjunction with an antihistamine.
Written by Aoife.