It’s Not Just You — This Year’s Allergies Are Bad. Here’s How To Help Kids Get Through Them

Around the country, spring and early summer mark the beginning of allergy season. But the season has arrived earlier and lasted longer in recent years. In my primary care pediatrics office, the number of children coming in with new seasonal allergies, as well as the number of kids coming in with what their parents state are “the worst” allergies they’ve ever had, have increased dramatically. Why, and what can parents do about this? Let’s chat.

Why are this year’s allergies so bad?

Climate change, a factor that’s impacting many aspects of our lives, is also contributing to the severity of allergies. Environmental science experts have long warned about the health effects of climate change, and worsening seasonal allergies are among the first to manifest, along with increased exposure to infectious diseases. 

Climate change is making plants bloom earlier and stay in bloom longer. They’re also producing more pollen than they used to, thanks in part to increased rainfall. As if this wasn’t enough, changing wind patterns are carrying pollen into new and expanded areas, creating a perfect combination for longer and more severe allergy seasons. 

How do you know if your symptoms are due to allergies?

While allergies and colds may share some symptoms, there are distinct differences that can help you tell them apart. Both allergies and colds can lead to a runny nose and sneezing, but allergies typically don’t cause a sore throat, cough, or fever. Additionally, allergies often result in itchy, puffy, and watery eyes, whereas colds can sometimes lead to conjunctivitis or pink eye. 

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the timing of symptoms. A cold usually lasts 3 to 10 days, while allergies may last for weeks and worsen at certain times of the day. 

What can you do about your kids’ seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are treated with antihistamine medications, which can be taken orally or used in eye drops and with nasal steroid sprays. If this is your child’s first season experiencing allergies, or if they’ve gained weight and grown, it’s important to see your pediatrician to discuss medication dosing and rule out any other condition that could account for your child’s symptoms. It’s also important to see your pediatrician if your current medication regimen does not control your symptoms.

Editor’s note: Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez is a practicing pediatrician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, a contributing editor to SheKnows, and a mom to an active toddler.

Before you go, shop these products to treat your kid’s next cold:

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