August 29, 2019

Seasonal allergies mark the end of summer fun

The unofficial end of summer is usually celebrated on Labor Day or the first day of school. But for some people, the start of fall is signaled by an itch in the throat and a stuffy nose.

The change of seasons can be miserable for kids (and parents) who suffer from seasonal allergies or hay fever.

Common symptoms of hay fever

  • Sneezing

  • Stuffy, runny or itchy nose

  • Itchy, watery or red eyes

  • Itchy throat

  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

Ragweed pollen, which occurs August through September, is the main cause of misery for those with fall allergies. Contrary to popular belief the primary cause of allergy symptoms is the tooth-leaved ragweed that lives low in the grass, not the tall goldenrod species. A single ragweed plant can produce up to one billion pollen grains. These grains are very light weight and float easily through the air. Common weed pollen increases in the late summer into the fall months. Peak time for ragweed pollen is usually about the time that school begins in the fall.

Another allergen that can cause problems at the time of year is mold. Mold spores can appear in the early spring, but peak in warmer, humid months, such as July through October. Mold spores may be present until there is full snow cover.

Pollen and mold spores are carried by the wind. Some pollen can travel hundreds of miles. This is why warm, dry and windy weather often increases allergy symptoms. Since pollen and mold are carried by the wind, it will not help to remove plants or trees in your yard.

Limit exposure to pollen and mold

The best control is to avoid contact with the pollen. The National Allergy Bureau tracks pollen counts regionally to help you plan when you should avoid spending a lot of time outdoors.

  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning

  • Keep kids indoors when the pollen or mold counts are reported as high

  • Don't allow a child with seasonal allergies to mow lawns or raking leaves. This can stir up stir up pollen and molds.

  • Have your child shower and change their clothes after being outdoors for a long time. Pollen and mold can be easily carried indoors on clothes and hair. This also includes on pets, such as cats and dogs, who should be bathed more often during pollen seasons.

  • Don't hang laundry outside to dry. Pollen and molds can cling to laundry and be brought indoors.

  • Think about taking a vacation during high pollen seasons and travel to an area with less pollen

Treating outdoor allergy symptoms

Medicine can help relieve your child's allergy symptoms:

  • Antihistamine (helps runny/itchy nose/eyes, sneezing)

  • Nose spray (helps nasal stuffiness)

  • Eye drop (helps itchy eyes)

It is important to take the allergy medications as prescribed by your health care provider.

If medications fail to relieve your child's symptoms, your physician may recommend taking your child to an allergist for allergy "shots" or immunotherapy, which can help desensitize kids to allergens.

Care Anywhere

Did you know that you can see urgent care providers for allergies and other health problems through a video visit using the UW Health's Care Anywhere app. You don't have to leave home and can see a provider when it's convenient for you and your child.