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For millions of children in the United States, spring allergy flare-ups can be a real hindrance to the sunny outdoor recreation season. But don’t throw in the beach towel just yet. We talked with Dr. Alok Patel, a physician at Stanford Children’s Health, to get his top three tips on how to help manage your child’s seasonal allergy symptoms.

Seasonal allergies in children tend to appear between the ages of 2 and 5. At that age, they may not be able to explain to you in detail what’s bothering them. So for starters, Patel says you may need to do some “detective work” to find out if allergies are the real culprit of their symptoms.

Patel says you should be aware of lifestyle changes – such as your child having trouble sleeping or concentrating at school – because common allergy symptoms such as a stuffy nose, runny nose and red eyes can be distracting and keep kids awake at night.

Because spring seasonal allergies overlap with the COVID-19 pandemic, Patel says parents should watch for children with itchy throats and stuffy noses accompanied by fever and body aches; the latter symptom is abnormal for allergies and may indicate some kind of contagiousness.

So, once you’ve determined that allergies are the problem, what now?

Tip #1: Know that you are not alone

“First, realize that you are not alone,” Patel said. “Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies. There’s always someone you can talk to about it.

If your child has allergies, then you or someone else in your family may have dealt with them as well.

“Ask yourself, do you have seasonal allergies? Or is it someone else in your family? Because genetics may play a role,” Patel tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Tip #2: Get organized

Next, Patel says parents need to “get organized. He suggests keeping a journal to note when your child’s symptoms start, the day’s pollen count and any possible triggers.

“These are very useful for health care professionals, such as allergists, to determine exactly what allergies are bothering your child – if they are even allergies,” Patel said.

You also need to pay attention to when your child’s symptoms start, as timing can have a lot to do with what may be triggering the allergy, and can help you reduce future exposure. For example, if your child plays outside and develops symptoms in early spring, they may be allergic to tree pollen; if symptoms appear in late spring or early summer, they may be allergic to grass pollen.

With so many treatment options – from allergy shots to over-the-counter medications such as oral antihistamines, flavored cough syrups and nasal sprays – Patel says it’s best to get in touch with a board-certified allergist to develop a management plan for your child’s allergies.

“If you choose to give your child an anti-allergy medication, make sure you follow the directions, as some medications are not appropriate for all different age groups,” Patel added. “If you have any questions, you should consult [a] health care professional.”

Tip #3: Talk to your child about allergies

Finally, Patel says it’s important to talk to your child about their allergies and symptoms, listen and acknowledge what they’re going through.

“The way I explain this to kids is, ‘Hey, there are a lot of things in the world that are harmless to us, but for some reason our immune system, which is designed to protect us from bad effects, sometimes recognizes these friendly particles as the enemy. It causes a chemical reaction,'” Patel said.

“‘It happens to a lot of people, but we can make you feel better.'”


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