By Dr. J. Cary Moorhead, MD, FACS president of Texas ENT Specialists
Spring is here and the Bayou City is gearing up for an intense allergy season. With the warmer temps already arriving, it seems natural that Houston families are spending an abundance of time outdoors. Mild weather patterns limit the number of hard freezes that typically halt pollination and provide reprieve. The pollination of trees, grasses and weeds can make things miserable for allergy sufferers, especially patients with symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis (AR). Longer and frequent outdoor exposure translates to more runny noses, coughing, sneezing and itchy/watery eyes. Unfortunately, children are not exempt to developing allergic conditions, and in Houston, we see that children can begin to suffer from spring allergies as early as January. Keeping kids healthy during the spring allergy season is especially difficult, and to complicate matters, the combination of outdoor allergies with common household allergies (such as mold, dust mites and animals) symptoms can become unbearable. As parents, we all want the best for our children. There are some very simple and effective strategies that we can employ to help them feel their best during the height of allergy season this spring:
- Bathe and wash hair before bed so that children are not breathing in all the pollen collected on their hair and skin throughout the day.
- Do saline nasal rinses at least once a day (twice a day is better) – we know, this will be hard to get your children on board but, it is a great habit to instill while young.
- Wash sheets weekly in hot water to rid any collected allergens.
- Limit carpets and stuffed animals in the bedroom as they are dust and pollen magnets.
- Dirty (pollen covered) clothes should go directly into a laundry bin or washer. Every time you drop the clothes on the floor, pollen is spreading.
- Keep the car air conditioner on re-circulation when pollen counts are high so that children are not exposed to outside allergens.
- Encourage kids to have an adequate fluid intake so their noses will “run” and not get all clogged up when they are exposed to allergens. With enough fluids, the nose will try to flush out the irritating pollen naturally.
Remember, it is okay for your child to occasionally have a clear, runny nose during peak allergy season; it’s the body’s defense mechanism at work. Parents should be concerned when the discharge is yellowish green or when the nose is constantly runny. With saline rinses and good hydration, the drainage may go away. Another option for allergy sufferers are sublingual immunotherapy, an alternative to allergy shots. Texas ENT Specialists has opened the new Allevia Allergy Center which offers convenient allergy testing and treatment recommendation all in one visit. Allevia drops are made specifically for your child, based on their allergy skin test results and can be administered from home. At Allevia Allergy Center, we believe that our patients shouldn’t be fighting allergy symptoms, especially while they are growing, learning and playing.
Seasonal allergies are inevitable here in Houston, but a few simple changes in your child’s everyday could help in relieving their symptoms and help get them back outside.
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, (2016). Allergy Statistics, Retrieved from http://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/allergy-statistics. Accessed February 16, 2017