If your child can’t seem to shake off his cold even now the weather is getting warmer, it’s possible he may suffer from hay fever.
While we’re all waving goodbye to those pesky winter snuffles, babies and toddlers with the first signs of hay fever will still have runny noses.
Hay fever is a common allergic reaction to pollen and causes the membranes inside the nose to become inflamed, leading to sneezing and a runny nose.
But if this is the first time your baby has suffered from hay fever, those symptoms will just look like the common cold.
Hay fever symptoms are caused when his body has an over-reaction to an allergen – in this case, pollen – and releases the chemical, histamine. Also known as rhinitis, this seasonal allergy can appear at any age.
If your baby or toddler has it, the first sign is sneezing. He may also keep rubbing his eyes and they might seem red. There may be some discharge from his nose, but it will be watery and clear.
He might seem tired, irritable and unable to concentrate or cope with his normal routine. His symptoms might also seem worse after playing outside.
If this sounds like your child, then consult your GP. She will ask you if your baby, or anyone else in the family, has asthma, eczema or other allergies, as this gives a higher risk of hay fever. She’ll make
a diagnosis after gently examining the inside of his nose, supported, if necessary, by allergy tests.
Hay fever is at its peak between April and September, but your child may suffer for a shorter period if he is only allergic to a particular type of pollen.
An allergy to grass pollen is the most common, and this tends to start affecting sufferers in May before calming down in July. But if he’s allergic to tree pollen, symptoms may last from April to September.
One way to help him is to reduce his exposure. Keeping a symptom diary to identify patterns of exposure will help you work out what triggers his hay fever.
Some things, such as playing near freshly mown grass, will be problematic for most children with hay fever, but you’ll find that certain things or places are tricky for your child in particular.
Pollen is released in the morning and early evening, so plan outside activities for the afternoon. Check the pollen count on the local weather report or by visiting pollenuk.co.uk before planning a trip out, and avoid any trigger activities when it’s high.
Hot weather, windy conditions, or just after a thunderstorm can cause a spike in pollen levels. When the count is very high – more than 50 grains of pollen per cubic metre of air – you might want to consider an indoor activity.
You can also reduce the amount of pollen he comes into contact with. Smear a dab of petroleum jelly around his nostrils to trap pollen before it enters his nose.
Buy him some sunglasses to stop pollen from getting in his eyes. And take a picnic blanket with you everywhere you go outside, and lay it on the ground when it’s time to play, so he isn’t in direct contact with the grass.
Be sure to notice which way up you use it, and stick to this, as pollen will collect on the underside. Wash it regularly to remove it.
Pollen grains will also get stuck in your little one’s clothes. So, if you come back from the park and he’s sneezing, change his outfit.
And hang washing to dry inside when the count is high. Wipe his face when you come in from playing outside, and wash his hair too if his symptoms are troubling him.
If your little one is suffering with a blocked nose you may want to consider first an over-the-counter solution that is safe and can improve the situation while you are arranging to see a specialist, says Dr Michael Rudenko, Allergy consultant and medical director at the London Allergy and Immunology Centre.
Try a natural solution
You might be apprehensive about what is and isn’t safe to give your children, and be worried about potential long term side effects, so finding the right treatment can be daunting.
If you are worried, consult your GP or Pharmacist and ask them about natural options in the first instance.
Using natural products such as a sea water nasal spray can be beneficial and recommended by GPs and consultants to help manage symptoms as the first step of treatment process.
Choose a natural product that can be used throughout the hay fever season to relieve symptoms as well as prevent them from occurring.
Stérimar Nasal Hygiene nasal spray is made from 100% natural, filtered sea water.
It not only washes away the allergens from the nose to effectively relieve symptoms, but also helps to clean and clear the nose to help restore it’s natural filtering functions and help support the body’s own natural defences from airborne allergens and contaminants.
Containing natural minerals and trace elements from sea water, Stérimar Nasal Hygiene has the same salt content as the cells in the human body making it extremely gentle.
As it is 100% natural, steroid and preservative free, Stérimar is safe to use as often as required with no known side effects. An effective and compromise free solution that can be used from 3 months plus.
When a trial of a nasal spray on its own is not enough to get significant relief of symptoms, seek further medical advice from your GP or visit an Allergy Specialist for a consultation and to discuss a specific treatment plan.
If you are advised to use a medicated treatment, ensure you always read the information on the bottle or box and follow the directions of use recommended by a consultant.
Take into consideration the concentrations of ingredients and remember the dose can be based on the age and weight of infants and young children when determining the amount needed.
Suffering from allergies can be miserable, so it is essential to find a good routine and be consistent, whether that is ensuring you minimise their contact with pollen, or follow a natural treatment plan.
With some consistent small changes over the summer months, you can have your little one back to health and enjoying everything summer has to offer in no time.