Hayfever, seasonal allergic rhinitis, is a very common condition affecting children and adults. Children may have an itchy, blocked or runny nose, sneezing and red, watery and itchy eyes. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and are caused by the immune system reacting to allergens in the air such as pollen from trees and grass. Different types of pollen are present throughout the year and grasses are the biggest culprits during the summer months. Avoiding exposure to pollen can be difficult especially on sunny days when children and parents want to be outdoors.
Keeping windows closed in the car when driving with your child, avoiding going out on very windy days and after thunderstorms, wearing sunglasses to protect eyes, not hanging clothes outside to dry, staying inside when the lawn is being mown are a few suggestions to avoid pollen exposure. However, if symptoms are more troublesome medications are usually also needed. Antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays and eye drops are all commonly used, safe and many varieties of these medications are available without prescription. In many children hayfever can become very disruptive affecting sleep, development, concentration and school performance in older children and so it is important not to ignore the symptoms. Your GP or paediatrician can assess the severity, examine for other causes and associated allergic conditions, such as eczema and asthma, and recommend appropriate treatments. In some cases assessment by a specialist in paediatric allergy and skin prick tests or blood tests may be required. If you are concerned do seek help and advice as usually simple avoidance measures, using antihistamines and lots of tissues will be all that is needed.