Seasonal allergy sufferers of all ages have been battling brutal symptoms this spring: runny noses, sneezing and itchy eyes. But if you’re a parent, there’s no reason to restrict your children’s outdoor activities because they have hay fever.
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You can take several steps that can provide allergy relief for your children that doesn’t involve cooping them up inside.
One is to regulate the pollen that can get inside your home. One simple step can be to simply close their bedroom windows, says allergist Brian Schroer, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s.
“Keep their bedroom windows shut. That keeps the pollen outside,” he says. “By doing this, you create an allergy-free zone in their bedroom.”
Central air conditioning can help to maintain a pollen-free indoor environment as well. Dr. Schroer recommends putting a HEPA filter on your central air unit to filter out pollen from the air. A HEPA filter works by forcing air through a fine mesh to trap harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites and tobacco smoke.
Outdoor pollen levels are higher in the morning and early afternoon. So it may help decrease allergy symptoms if your children play outside when there is less pollen in the air.
Time medications for the best benefit
The time of day your kids take their allergy medicine also can make a difference. Have your children take their 24-hour allergy pills or nasal sprays before bedtime to ensure the medicine already is circulating by the time they need it most — in the morning.
It’s sometimes difficult to convince your children to take medicine when they’re not feeling symptoms. But consistent use of allergy medications is the key to successful symptom prevention, Dr. Schroer says.
To help your children remember to take their allergy medicine, pair their pill-taking with another, established habit, such as the nightly tooth-brushing.
Another good time for your children to take their allergy medicine is shortly before they go outside for a long period of time, such as baseball practice.
“When the kids do go outside, remember to give them the medicines that their doctor has prescribed for them,” Dr. Schroer says.
To avoid red, itchy eyes, Dr. Schroer says to have your children try wearing sunglasses when outside. The sunglasses will protect your child’s eyes from the sun and can provide a shield against pollen.
When the weather is hot, dry and windy, that’s when you can count on it being a peak allergy day. It might be best for your kids to play inside on those days, Dr. Schroer says. Better weather for outside play would be when it’s cooler and not so windy. After a rain is a good time to go outside, too.