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9/18/23 blog post

managing your child's fall allergies

With chillier nights and mornings, the leaves beginning to change, and shorter days, comes fall allergies. Allergies like ragweed and mold may be more present in the fall, which means so are stuffy noses, itchy eyes and sneezing.  Here are a few ways to help your kiddo manage fall allergies: 

  1. Keep doors and windows closed. With cooler temperatures it may be tempting to open the screen door and windows, but if your child experiences allergies you want to avoid this as allergens can get through these screens. 
  2. Clean vents and air filters in your home. Allergens can get trapped in air filters and vents so cleaning them regularly will help reduce the amount of allergens in the air of your home. 
  3. Wear a mask when outside during peak allergen times. Allergens typically peak midday and can be stirred up by wind and rain so know what you’re getting into when you’re going to be outdoors. 
  4. Dust and vacuum regularly. With the kiddos playing outside, it’s very easy to bring allergens inside. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and vacuum regularly to get rid of allergens. You may consider vacuuming your cloth furniture and curtains as well. 
  5. Change clothes immediately after playing outside. Allergens can live on fabric so if your kiddo has been jumping in leave piles or playing outside, it’s best to change clothes when coming in from the outdoors.  

If after trying all the tips and tricks above your child is still suffering from allergies, you may want to ask your child’s primary care provider about an over-the-counter allergy medicine. If your child is still suffering from bad allergies after taking the allergy medicine regularly for a few weeks, you may need to see a pediatric allergist and immunologist to be tested. 

is it allergies or COVID-19? 

We know that with respiratory illnesses in full swing, it can be difficult to know when it’s allergies versus the common cold or even COVID so it’s important to recognize the key differences. 

Typically, seasonal allergies cause itchy and/or watery eyes, sneezing, and runny nose.  However, there are some symptoms of seasonal allergies that can also be tied to COVID. These symptoms include: 

  • Cough 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Sore throat  
  • Congestion or runny nose

what symptoms are associated with COVID and NOT allergies? 

Typically, seasonal allergies do not cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing unless a person has a respiratory condition like asthma, which can be triggered by pollen.  

what symptoms are more specific to COVID? 

Fever and shortness of breath (with no history of asthma) are more specific for COVID. It is important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor if breathing difficulties become severe or fever is persistent. 

how long can seasonal allergies last? 

There is not a definitive answer to this question. Allergies can last as long as the allergen (pollen) is in the air. This can last for a few days or a few weeks. If your child’s allergies last longer than a few weeks he/she could be experiencing something called chronic sinusitis. 

what is chronic sinusitis? 

Chronis sinusitis is a long-lasting sinus inflammation and infection that lasts for a long period of time (12 weeks or more). With chronic sinusitis the sinus cavities become infected due to being blocked and filled with fluid. This can be caused from allergies and other infections. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis can include pressure in the face, mucus (snot) dripping down the back of the throat, toothache, ear pain, headache, cough, tiredness, and more. 

If you think your child may need to see a pediatric allergist and immunologist, click here for more information about Dayton Children’s Hospital pediatric allergy and immunology division. 

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Daniel Urschel, MD

allergy / immunology
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