How to Treat Allergies
Whether it be sneezing, runny nose, watery itchy eyes, cough, or any combination, allergy symptoms can be bothersome to the patient and persist for the length of the fall or spring. For some people who are allergic to indoor allergens also, including dust, these symptoms can persist all year. There are however, effective treatment options for children.
First, allergen avoidance is the easiest treatment. After being outside, changing your child’s clothes and having them shower to get pollen off works well. Running air conditioning, if possible, rather than keeping the windows open so pollen doesn’t land on the patient’s bed, pillows or in areas where they spend a lot of time in the house can decrease allergy symptoms.
For nasal symptoms, including sneezing and runny nose, there are many options. The first is the simplest: nasal saline. Whether a saline spray is used or a nettipot is used, rinsing the nose and sinuses so that pollen is removed is an important first step in controlling allergy symptoms. This can be done as often as needed, twice per day at a minimum.
If that is not enough, antihistamines can be used. . These medications come in 2 types: ones that make children sleepy, and ones that do not. Benadryl works well for allergies and hives, however it will make your child sleepy and lasts about 6 hours. Other antihistamines that are nonsedating include Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec. All of these last 12-24 hours, come in a liquid or chewable form, and have dosing guidelines on the package.
If these do not work, or if you are looking for yet another option, nasal steroid sprays such as fluticasone or Veramyst work well. These are prescriptions, and can be given in an office visit. They need to be used every day, but work well in controlling allergy symptoms. Some studies have shown they may work better than the antihistamines listed above. If this still is not working an antihistamine nasal spray, such as Astelin, can be added, also by prescription.
The other major complaint for allergies is itchy, watery eyes. Again, using an artificial tears to rinse the eyes will relieve some symptoms, but if more symptom relief is needed then adding an over the counter allergic eye drop such as Zaditor or Patanol works very well. Pataday, a prescription drop, lasts for 24 hours.
If symptoms are still not relieved, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about allergy testing. The purpose of the testing is to see exactly what the patient is allergic to first avoid the allergen, and also to discuss the possibility of allergy shots (immunotherapy) with the allergist.