by: Michael Kabel
Experts believe more than 45 million Americans suffer with at least one allergy - that's up to twenty percent of the total population. And while for many children with allergies the summertime brings sweet relief from allergens and pollutants, many more will continue to struggle with seasonal symptoms that are just as discomforting.
The main causes of summertime seasonal allergies begin in April and continue really all the way through October. Getting children help overcoming their symptoms can be time-consuming, but it's not expensive and doesn't have to put the child through additional suffering.
Spring flowers lead to summer symptoms
The months of April and May are the blooming season for thousands of plants, grasses, and flowers. Tree pollens, molds and mildews, and other airborne allergens fill the air, especially in more humid areas like the Southeastern United States.
As their blooming season ends in mid-summer, ragweed begins to bloom in August and continues through the fall, only really ending with the coming of autumn in October.
Ragweed is among the most common allergies known and often produces hay fever symptoms in children and adults.
Monitoring pollen levels
Pollen levels rise and fall each day, with atmospheric conditions playing a big part of their proliferation. Parents should monitor local media broadcasts and newspapers to track these pollen levels as a means of anticipating the child's allergy needs.
Typically, atmospheric pollen indexes are highest between five and ten in the morning. Children with allergies should avoid playing outside during these times if at all possible, or use allergy medication to help manage symptoms.
Hay fever is the most common allergic reaction.
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is actually not a fever but instead is a condition that includes all the classic symptoms of allergy suffering: sneezing, watery eyes (also called allergic conjunctivitis), and postnasal drip and congestion. Children may also suffer "shiners," or dark circles around the eyes, as well as struggle to breathe through the mouth.
Ear infections are also possible. As the ear canal fills with sinus fluid, the resulting inflammation can contribute to infections that can even lead to temporary hearing loss. "Popping" or "stopped up" ears are also common symptoms.
Finally, parents can watch for the so-called "allergic salute" as a sign their children are struggling with congestion. The salute is the often-seen pushing up of the nose with one hand in an attempt to relieve sinus pressure.
Indoor allergies are controlled with parents' help.
Children can evade most of the outdoor allergens by staying indoors, but unfortunately the insides of most homes present their own set of allergy challenges. Dust mites, mold and other allergens such as pet dander can produce hay fever symptoms, too.
Parents should realize that no amount of cleaning will completely cleanse the house of dust mites. In fact, over-cleaning can cause dust and dirt long buried in carpets and in corners up into the air, actually worsening air quality.
Installing HEPA air filters and keeping windows and doors shut will reduce outside pollen content inside the house. Keeping the house relatively free of humidity will also reduce the likelihood of allergic outbursts.
And of course medication is also a possibility. Parents should only give their children non-drowsy antihistamines and decongestants. They should also consult a doctor if over the counter medication fails to alleviate their child's symptoms.