Springing into Allergy Season

Tribeca Pediatrics Newsletter

April showers bring May flowers – and with it comes the itchy eyes, sneezes and sniffles we all know so well to signal the start of allergy season. Our mild winter coupled with an early taste of spring have certainly made for increased pollen counts and a longer battle against the allergens in the air. This month, we want to focus on giving you some tips on how to get through the season without too much distress or discomfort so you and your family can enjoy the sunshine.  

Climate Change is Real and the Earth is Round

If you’re noticing a more powerful punch this year when it comes to your allergies, you’re not imagining it. Factors such as climate change and air pollution have had a steady impact on the amount of pollen released each year. Take last year for example; we saw the start of 2016’s allergy season in May, a month earlier than usual. Pollen has also been lasting longer through September. With the pollen count having risen already, 2017 promises to be the longest and most unwelcome pollen season yet for New Yorkers.

When it comes to your kids, the effects of allergy season can vary. Allergy symptoms include itchy nose/throat, clear runny nose, sneezing and teary eyes. Contrary to what you may have heard, respiratory allergies are relatively rare in children. Babies and infants are less likely to display symptoms as their bodies are still developing and reacting to the allergens of the world. It takes several years of exposure to allergens for a child to start to develop a reaction.

The symptoms you’re noticing could be blamed on a lingering cold. While a cold or allergy reaction may show similar signs, signs like yellow/green mucous and fever may be indicative of a cold. Cold symptoms also tend to be shorter as opposed to allergy symptoms which can linger for weeks or months. In rare cases, an airborne allergen can trigger an intense breathing reaction or a swelling of the airway.

Coping with Budding Symptoms

If your little one is indeed feeling symptoms of seasonal allergies, treatment options can be limited. Over the counter antihistamines might prove to reduce symptoms for a little while, but these medications also come with the added effect of drowsiness. Longer acting allergy medications, such as Zyrtec, cause less drowsiness, but may be less effective. Nasal sprays, as you have probably experienced, can also become less powerful with repeated use.

In general, the best treatment for allergies is simply avoiding the allergen whenever possible, however taking advantage of the gorgeous weather and the various outdoor activities that come with it may prove to be a balancing act. Dr. Zaentz, from our Greenpoint neighborhood office, gives some additional great advice: “When outside, wear sunglasses and a hat to avoid pollen getting into your eyes. After getting home, it is a good idea to shower and change clothes to get rid of pollen from your hair and skin.” If you can, encourage your child to get used to the occasional sniffles without too much medicinal interference. Of course, if your child’s allergy symptoms start to get worse or become unbearable, please call us to schedule an appointment.