Seasonal allergies are miserable no matter how old you are. Your nose starts running, your sinuses get clogged up, your eyes water and you sneeze incessantly every time you walk out the door or breathe in fresh air. For toddlers, who will experience the same symptoms but can’t tell you what’s wrong, it can feel worse.
What should you do if you suspect your toddler might have seasonal allergies, and what can you do to make your life — and theirs — a little more comfortable during allergy season?
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Toddlers
You know the symptoms of seasonal allergies in adults — you may even experience them every allergy season — but these symptoms can present differently in children and toddlers. Things to be on the lookout for include:
- Allergy Shiners — If your toddler gets enough sleep but still presents dark circles under their eyes, it could be a sign of allergies. These persistent dark circles are known as ‘allergy shiners’ — as though your allergies smacked you in the face so hard they left you with two black eyes.
- Itchy or Red Eyes — Is your toddler constantly rubbing their eyes when they’re not tired? Itchy eyes are another sign of allergies, and the constant rubbing can make their eyes red and puffy.
- Runny Nose — Is your toddler’s nose constantly running? I mean, we get it — snot is part of childhood, but if their nose constantly drains clear or thin mucus, it could be a sign of allergies. Nasal discharge that is thick and yellow or green in color usually indicates illness rather than allergies.
- Coughing — Coughing is usually associated with colds or flu viruses, but allergies can cause coughing as well, due to the post nasal drip.
- Mouth Breathers — Mouth breathers is an insult for most people, but for toddlers it can be a symptom of clogged sinuses.
- The Allergy Salute — This sounds silly, but it’s one of the most common toddler allergy symptoms. Wiggling their noses, wiping them constantly or pushing up the tips of their noses can all indicate allergies.
Your toddler, especially younger toddlers, may not tell you what is wrong. They may be cranky or excessively tired, but they won’t be able to tell you that their nose itches or their sinuses are stopped up.
Your toddler might develop allergies from birth, or they might develop them later in life. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, there’s a higher chance your child or children will too.
Figuring Out Triggers
You will eventually need a trip to the doctor to figure out treatments — it’s important to figure out what exactly triggers your toddler’s allergies. A few things that might cause their allergies could be:
- Pollen — This is the primary cause of seasonal allergies —grass, tree and flower pollen can all cause a histamine reaction, triggering all those allergy symptoms.
- Mold — Mold allergies are common and depending on where you live, can also be seasonal. Mold thrives in dark, humid environments and in areas with poor ventilation.
- Dust — Dust mites and dust bunnies are the bane of most homes. Keeping your home free of dust and investing in high-quality filters for your vacuum cleaner and air conditioner can help keep your home’s dust level down.
- Pet Dander — Pet dander allergies aren’t seasonal, but they can be common in children. Unfortunately, if your toddler turns out to be allergic to your pet, the only surefire way to remove the trigger is to remove the pet from the home. You can reduce the amount of dander that your pet produces by washing them frequently and using shampoos that naturally reduce dander.
Planning a Trip to the Doctor
Once you’ve figured out your toddler’s allergy triggers, your next step is to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. He or she will confirm that allergies are the problem, and how to continue with treatment. Treatment options will depend on the age of the child, the severity of the allergy symptoms and the specific symptoms the child experiences.
Common allergy treatments include:
- Over-the-Counter Antihistamines — Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra are all brand names for over the counter antihistamines, and many have low-dose child-friendly Don’t give your child over the counter medications without consulting your doctor first.
- Eyedrops — Itchy eyes are a common allergy symptom, and may be treated with either over the counter or prescription eyedrops, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
- Nasal Sprays — Over the counter and prescription nasal sprays can be a good way to deliver medicine directly to the nose, or to simply help deal with congestion. Again, talk to your child’s doctor first.
- Allergy Shots — For severe allergies, allergy shots might be an option but they aren’t usually used for children until they reach four to six years old. The only exception is in cases of severe allergy-triggered asthma, but again, that is something to discuss with your doctor.
It’s important to keep up with your child’s allergy treatments to make sure their symptoms don’t recur. Medication is important, but so is keeping their triggers down.
Air filters for your air conditioner can help keep pollen and dust out of the air in your home. Also, invest in good HEPA filters for your vacuum cleaner and any other appliances that kick up air or dust. Keeping dust cleaned off of things like ceiling fans and knickknacks can help keep the dust level in your home down to prevent allergy attacks.
Allergies can’t always be avoided, but there are plenty of steps you can take to make allergy attacks less severe and to treat them when they do occur. Take some time to learn your child’s allergy triggers, and don’t forget to take them to the doctor. Over the counter medications are a great tool, but you need to consult with your child’s doctor before you give them any medications.