Are Babies Affected by Seasonal Allergies?

April 13, 2024

by  | Apr 14, 2024 | Family Health

Ah, springtime—the city is awash in fresh colors holding the promise of much summer fun! As you are working your way through the annual springtime sprint reacquainting your children with what’s new at all the local parks, you have noticed that the baby is more congested and fussier than normal. Is it just a coincidence? You aren’t sure, but it seems as if they might be developing allergies. But what exactly are seasonal allergies, can babies get them, and what causes all the sniffling and sneezing?

Understanding Allergic Rhinitis

The arrival of spring brings seasonal allergies, formally known as allergic rhinitis or colloquially as “hay fever.” Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the nose and its mucus membrane, triggered by repeated exposure to airborne allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites, animal dander, and even cockroach waste. These particles can wreak havoc on sensitive immune systems, leading to a cascade of symptoms that include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, nose, throat, or ears, and even skin rashes or hives.

When a child who is sensitive to allergens encounters them, their immune system goes into overdrive, releasing histamines and other chemicals that cause irritation and inflammation in the nasal passages and beyond. Since repeated exposure to allergens is necessary before a body can produce an allergic response, it is uncommon for babies and children under two years of age to suffer from pollen-related allergic rhinitis. They may, however, experience symptoms related to allergens that are continually present in their environment like pet dander or insect excrement.

Causes and Contributors

But why do some children develop seasonal allergies while others seem to breeze through pollen season unscathed? The answer lies in a combination of factors, including genetics, environmental exposure, and individual immune responses.

Heredity and proximity factor into whether a person gets allergies. Among children with no family history of any allergies, 12% will develop them. A child having only one parent with allergies has a 30- 50% chance of developing them and if both parents have allergies the child’s likelihood jumps to 60- 80%. That number is likely to increase with lengthening pollen seasons.

Health issues like asthma or eczema contribute to the development or exacerbation of seasonal allergy symptoms in children. Babies and young children can exhibit allergy-like symptoms due to nasal dryness, a lack of indoor humidity, milk allergy, enlarged adenoids, or as the result of a viral infection. About 1 in 5 children have allergic rhinitis and 8 out of 10 children with asthma also have allergic rhinitis.

Common Causes of Allergic Rhinitis in Children:

  • Pollen from trees, grass, or weeds
  • Cockroach waste
  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Animal dander

Recognizing the Symptoms

One of the trickiest aspects of seasonal allergies is distinguishing them from the common cold, especially in young children who may not be able to articulate their symptoms clearly. While both conditions can cause nasal congestion and sneezing, there are key differences that can help parents differentiate between the two. Seasonal allergy symptoms tend to persist as long as the child remains exposed to the allergen. In contrast, cold symptoms typically resolve within a week or so.

Possible seasonal allergy symptoms:

  • Swollen and stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, throat, eyes, or ears (itching does not accompany colds)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dark circles or creases under the eyes
  • Sniffling, snorting
  • Throat clearing (sore throats are most associated with colds)
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Rash or hives

Children with year-round allergic rhinitis may also have these symptoms:

  • Continual earaches or infections
  • Snoring
  • Mouth breathing
  • Trouble with schoolwork
  • A line or crease across the bridge of the nose from constant wiping or scratching of an itchy nose

Managing Allergy Symptoms

So, what’s a parent to do when their little one is sniffling and sneezing their way through spring? Fortunately, there are strategies for managing seasonal allergies and minimizing their impact on your child’s daily life. An important component is to be in consultation with your child’s pediatrician or allergist for guidance on managing your child’s allergies effectively.

Medication Tips:

  • Begin giving allergy medicine a couple of weeks before allergy season is in full swing and give it regularly throughout the season to help keep headaches, sinusitis, ear and sinus infections, and the exacerbation of any asthma symptoms
  • Keep allergy eye drops in the fridge so they are extra soothing.
  • Use nasal sprays for drainage and stuffiness issues.
  • Talk with your pediatrician about over-the-counter medications like oral antihistamines or nasal sprays in children’s dosages. For nasal symptoms in baby’s parents can use saline drops or a suction bulb.
  • Children tend to metabolize antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec more quickly than adults and may require a second dose after 12 hours.

A note about Benadryl: Benadryl is slow-acting with negative side effects including drowsiness and cognitive impairment. Today’s pharmaceuticals have improved absorption without those undesired side effects. Cetirizine (Zyrtec) works the fastest of all antihistamines, so reach for it if you need quick absorption like during an acute attack.

Reducing Allergen Exposure:

  • Keep windows and exterior doors closed.
  • Use a HEPA-rated air purifier.
  • Take off shoes while indoors to avoid tracking in allergens, such as pollen and mold, especially if you have carpet.
  • Have your child shower or wash their hands and face as soon as they come in from playing outside.
  • Wash bedding and vacuum floors regularly.
  • Keep the windows in your home and car closed and use air conditioning to filter the air. Make sure your car’s air conditioner mode is set to re-circulate.
  • Have your child bathe at bedtime to keep allergens out of the bed.

With the right knowledge and proactive approach, you can help your little one through pollen season with minimal discomfort. By understanding the causes and symptoms of allergic rhinitis and implementing appropriate management strategies, you can ensure that your child spends less time sneezing and more time enjoying their favorite outdoor activities! Visit AFC Urgent Care Dalton if you or your child are in need of more thorough and compassionate care.

Be the first to read...

More Blog Posts

About Our Services:

Call (762) 344-3323 for more information about our Dalton urgent care services.