Summer is less than a week away. You’ll soon be faced with the fact that not only did you give your child her looks, her charm, her brains and her athletic ability; but you also gave her those summer allergies that make her wheeze, sneeze, itch and twitch. The least you can do to make up for this terrible genetic injustice is help her find ways to escape the scourge of summer allergies.
Summer Allergies in Children
Allergies run in families. If both parents suffer allergies, their children have a 75 to 80 percent probability of developing allergies too. A child who has one parent with allergies and one without stands a 40 percent chance of developing an allergy.
The three main spring and summer allergens are tree pollens, grasses and ragweed. If you suspect your offspring may have allergies, ask your pediatrician about a skin-prick allergy test or a RAST blood test to determine the exact cause of your child’s symptoms before you take drastic action. Your kids will disown you if you give away the family dog only to later learn your child is allergic to grass.
Reducing Household Allergens
The first step toward taming your child’s allergies is to reduce any household allergens that may be lingering around the proverbial corner.
- Use an air conditioner instead of window fans.
- Inspect air filters in all appliances to make sure they are clean. Replace air conditioner filters frequently; these filters play an important role in eliminating the airborne particles that kick up allergies.
- While soft toys are cuddly and comfy, they may harbor pollen and other allergens. Frequently wash soft toys in hot water, at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While you are at it, wash your dog weekly and brush him daily. Do not let the dog sleep on your child’s bed or let your child nap in the doghouse.
- If you have the opportunity, replace carpeted floors with hardwood or ceramic tiles. Toss your throw rugs. Deck the windows with shutters instead of curtains.
Treating Summer Allergies
You can do a few things this summer to help your son or daughter avoid and minimize seasonal allergies.
- Tell your child to clean his room. It will keep him busy for an afternoon and removing clutter will reduce the amount of surface area available where dust and pollen could settle.
- Give your child a pair of cool sunglasses to prevent pollen from settling into her eyes. Buy cheap sunglasses – you will be replacing them frequently – but choose frames that she will actually enjoy wearing. If the sunglasses do not work, at least you won’t be able to see her red, watery eyes.
- Tell your child to stick his finger up his nose, but first smear a glob of nasal ointment on his fingertip. Be clear that the idea is to put stuff into his nose, not take it out: no boogers allowed outside the nostril unless they are being blown into a tissue.
- Flush out the snot with a neti pot. A neti pot looks like Aladdin’s lamp and can make all your child’s allergy wishes come true – or at least make his sinuses a little clearer.
Foods that Help with Allergies
An apple a day keeps the allergies away. Apples, citrus fruits and other kid-friendly foods contain quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavonoid that prevents the release of antihistamines. While quercetin is found in many plant-based foods, it may be wise to pick up a bottle of quercetin supplements. Start quercetin supplements about six weeks before allergy seasons starts.
Summertime childhood memories should include fun and sun, not sneezing and wheezing. Help your little one overcome his summer allergies so he can get back to what he should be doing in the summer—sleeping in, riding his bike, playing games and complaining that he is bored.