As winter gives up its grip, seasonal allergy suffers turn a leery eye out the window at blooming grass and trees, sigh, and start digging out last year’s allergy medication. Children allergic to pollen and molds may do more than sigh.
If your child suffers from seasonal allergies you too are getting prepared. Kids usually develop allergies before their 6th birthday but, can develop new ones throughout their lives. . And, as I can attest to as a lifelong sufferer, moving to a new location doesn’t help….those prone to allergies tend to find something to be allergic to wherever they are.
While drugstores carry shelves full of over-the-counter medications to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies, there are some natural choices that, in many cases work as well or better.
- Stay Inside. The best way to treat allergy symptoms is to avoid allergens to begin with, say the experts at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). So when pollen counts soar, keep kids indoors as much as possible. Pollen is usually at its peak mid-morning, early evening, and when the wind is blowing. To keep pollen out when the weather’s hot, air condition your car and home and keep windows closed.
- Use Saltwater. Nasal congestion can be one of the most exhausting symptoms for children with allergies. For relief, older children might want to try nasal irrigation with a saline solution, one of the “best home remedy of all,” says Alan Goldsobel, MD, a California physician and spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. You can buy saline at the drugstore or make your own by mixing in a squirt bottle eight ounces of water to one teaspoon non-iodized salt.
- Stay Hydrated. All that sneezing and blowing can leave a child parched. Keep a water bottle full and close to hand and encourage your children to stay well-hydrated. Or try a weak tea with honey and lemon. Bonus: The steam from a piping hot cup may relieve sinus congestion, too.
- Warm It Up. A hot shower or bath seems to offer allergy symptom relief for some, says Asriani Chiu, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at the College of Wisconsin, so encourage kids to enjoy a little tub time.
- Deal With Dry Air. A little moisture in the air makes breathing easier for most, so if you suspect the air in your house is dry, you may want to turn on a humidifier. But be careful: Humidity over 40% can encourage the growth of indoor allergens like mold and dust mites.
- Get Face Time. When itchy eyes are driving your kid crazy, try a cold compress, says Chiu, which may help reduce the itch and inflammation. Warm compresses applied to the face may help soothe a child’s sinus pressure and pain.
- Spice It Up. If your kids enjoy spicy foods, a piquant dish made with cayenne pepper, hot ginger, fenugreek, onions, or garlic may help thin mucus and clear nasal passages.
- Rub Jelly On It. And if your child’s nose is raw and red from blowing, you can soothe their sniffer with a dab of petroleum jelly.
- Gargle to Relieve Sore Throats . If postnasal drip leaves your child with a sore throat, gargling with warm salt water made of 1-2 tablespoons of table salt in 8 ounces of water may ease the pain.
- Avoid Certain Foods . If your child is allergic to ragweed, they may also have an allergic sensitivity to certain foods. Symptom-provoking foods to avoid may include bananas, melons, chamomile tea, sunflower seeds, and cucumbers.
In addition, to these tips, herbal remedies or alternative treatments may offer relief for your child. Which ones have you tried and found successful in treating seasonal allergies?