Allergies (hay fever or allergic rhinits) are common in kids.
That makes it a good idea to learn how to control your child’s allergies.
What Triggers Your Child’s Allergy Symptoms?
There are several good reasons to try and figure out what your child’s allergy triggers are, including that it can help you:
- avoid the trigger – stay away from cats if your child is allergic to cats
- minimize the trigger – control dust mites in your home if that is a trigger
- know to give your child her allergy medicine before she will be exposed – start medicines before fall allergy season if she is allergic to ragweed
That doesn’t mean your child needs an allergy test though. You can often figure out what triggers your child’s allergies if you are mindful of the pattern of her symptoms (year round vs seasonal), what she is doing or exposed to when they worsen, and by checking pollen counts on both good and bad allergy days.
Allergy Medicines for Kids
Unfortunately, simply trying to avoid allergy triggers isn’t usually enough.
Most kids with allergies also take one or more of these medicines, many of which are now available over-the-counter, without a prescription:
- short acting antihistamines – Benadryl (can be sedating)
- long acting antihistamines – Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec
- non-antihistamines – Singulair
- steroid nasal sprays – Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, Omnaris, Rhinocort
- antihistamine nasal sprays – Astelin, Astepro, Patanase
- allergy eye drops – Pataday, Zaditor
And to work best, your child should likely start his allergy medicines before his allergy season and take them every day.
Treating Hard To Control Allergies
So what do you do when these allergy medicines don’t control your child’s allergies?
The first thing you likely want to do, and something many people overlook, is to make sure that your child’s symptoms are really caused by allergies. Remember, just because your child has a runny nose, it doesn’t mean that he has allergies. Or even if he often has allergies, it doesn’t mean that allergies are causing every runny nose. If your child has a runny nose and congestion and allergy medicines aren’t working, then he may just have a cold.
If your child does have allergies and they are just hard to control, then you might want to:
- review your allergy trigger control methods (allergy proof dust covers on mattresses, no mold in house, keep windows closed in the car, etc.)
- consider if you are triggering your child’s allergies even more, for example, dust mites and mold like humidity, so a humidifier in your child’s room would not be a good idea if your child is allergic to dust mites or mold
- make sure your child is taking the correct dose of his allergy medicine
- make sure your child is taking the correct medication for his allergy symptoms, keeping in mind that antihistamines don’t treat congestion, but Singulair (montelukast) and steroid nasal sprays do
- try a different allergy medicine, although tachyphlaxis reportedly doesn’t occur with antihistamines – they shouldn’t become less effective over time
- try a combination of medicines, for example, a long acting antihistamine plus a steroid nasal spray
- try a different combination of medicines, for example, Singular plus an antihistamine nasal spray
- make sure your child is able to avoid second hand smoke
- consider that your child could have vasomotor rhinitis or nonallergic rhinitis
- ask about allergy testing, which can be done by your pediatrician (blood tests at almost any age) and/or a pediatric allergy specialist (blood or skin tests)
A pediatric allergist can also be helpful in diagnosing and managing your child’s allergies, especially if you think your child needs to start oral (sublingual immunotherapy) or shot (subcutaneous immunotherapy) allergy preventative treatments.
What To Know About Treating Hard To Control Allergies
Allergies can be hard to treat and control in kids, but they can often be managed if you understand how to avoid common allergy triggers and use allergy medicines properly.
For More Information On Treating Hard To Control Allergies
- AAP – Allergy Causes in Children: What Parents Can Do
- AAP – Diagnosing Allergies
- Your Child’s Food Allergy
- Controlling Indoor Allergies and Allergens
- FDA – Allergy Relief for Your Child
- AAAAI – Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children
- Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers
- Hay Fever Treatment
- Dust Mite Allergy
- Allergy Tests
- Allergic Rhinitis Clinical Practice Guideline
- Allergic rhinitis
Last Updated on December 27, 2016 by Vincent Iannelli, MD