What can I do with my child’s hay fever?
What is hay fever?
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is caused by allergy to environmental inhalants like pollens (grasses or trees), dust mite, animal dander or moulds. Hay fever is not caused by a food allergy. Hay fever symptoms include stuffiness (congested nose), runny nose, sneezing as well as itchy and watery eyes. These symptoms can range from mild (not affecting day to day activities) to severe (affecting quality of life) and may occur in a particular season (like pollen allergies) or be persistent all year round (like dust mite allergies). Unfortunately, in children these symptoms can persist for many years and cause complications like sleep disturbances, daytime fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, recurrent ear infections and asthma symptoms that are difficult to control. School performance can also be affected.
How to treat it?
If you or your child suffer from allergic rhinitis, it is worth doing some allergy testing particularly if it is persistent, or affects their day-to-day function, sleep or school. There are many treatment options available for children with hay fever and many are available over-the-counter. However, it is very important to seek advice from your health care professional to avoid using treatments that could cause more harm than good. For instance, frequent use of decongestant nose sprays or tablets are likely to worsen symptoms in the long term and should be avoided. Antihistamines can help to reduce symptoms for some time but they are not as effective in controlling the nasal blockage and stuffiness caused by the allergies. Intranasal corticosteroid sprays are very effective when used regularly and with proper technique and are likely to provide long-term control. Combination medications containing intranasal corticosteroid and antihistamine spray are now available and could offer the combined advantages of both medications. Please seek advice from your doctor.
Can we try to switch the allergy off?
Desensitisation (allergen immunotherapy) is also available, particularly for children where the severity of symptoms and/or the need for regular medications is affecting their quality of life including causing complications. It involves the administration of gradually increasing amounts of allergen extracts by injections under the skin or tablets/sprays/drops under the tongue. Treatment usually takes 3-5 years and is only suitable for children older than 5 years of age. Desensitisation can be very effective. However, given that it is a long term treatment tailored to your child’s allergies, it should only be initiated by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.
Further information is also available through the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) website: www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-treatment/immunotherapy
Don’t forget, you can always contact us to seek advice – Learn more about Dr Pinzon Charry
If your child is experiencing regular symptoms or side effects from hay fever, it may be time to seek paediatric specialist care. Make an appointment with Dr Pinzon Charry, call 07 3177 2000 or use the booking form to make an appointment.