Does your toddler sneeze continuously or complain about feeling drowsy all the time? Do you have to carry a handkerchief everywhere because of his runny nose? Are these symptoms predominantly during the summer season when it’s hot and humid outside? If you have answered in the affirmative to the above questions, chances are that your toddler is a likely candidate for hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
What Is Hay Fever?
Hay Fever or allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction caused by pollen and other allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold, etc. Unlike the name suggests, hay is not (usually) the cause of the problem, nor does it lead to fever.
- There are two types of allergic rhinitis – seasonal and perennial. The former is caused in spring/summer when trees and grasses release pollen. Perennial rhinitis affects a person throughout the year. It is caused by common allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold, etc. When symptoms appear during spring or summer, doctors diagnose it as hay fever.
- Hay fever also strikes during the winter thanks to fungus growing in damp and dark environments.
- Asthma and hay fever are closely related in the sense that people with hay fever are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Asthma In Toddlers ]
Hay Fever In Toddlers:
Can toddlers get hayfever? Well, toddlers are unlikely candidates for hay fever. That’s because they mostly stay indoors. Symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes when experienced throughout the year often indicate perennial rhinitis. But if he experiences symptoms only during certain times of the year, hay fever is likely to be the cause.
- Hay fever can be a genetic trait, i.e. toddlers are more likely to be diagnosed with hay fever if a parent or sibling has allergies.
- Toddlers exposed to second-hand smoke early on in their lives are likely to develop hay fever.
- Toddlers born to higher income families and those born in smaller families are likely candidates for hay fever.
- Toddlers allergic to cow’s milk have a higher risk of developing hay fever.
[ Read: Scarlet Fever In Toddlers ]
Signs OfHay Fever In Toddlers:
Continuous sneezing and a runny nose are tell-tale signs for hay fever. Other hay fever symptoms in toddlers include:
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Itchy or eczematous skin
- Itchiness in the ears
- Dry cough
- Chest congestion
- Stuffy nose
Take your toddler to the doctor if he suffers from any of the above mentioned symptoms. Doctors do not advice an allergy test when symptoms are a seasonal occurrence. But if they occur throughout the year, your GP may perform a skin prick test or a blood test.
[ Read: Stuffy Nose In Toddlers ]
Grass pollen is a major cause of toddler hay fever. But a lenient criterion for diagnosis also includes tree pollen and fungi.
- There’s not much information about pollen allergy causing trees in India. But a detailed survey sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India classified 43 types of pollens to have allergenic properties. Dominant among them include grasses, holoptelea (Indian Elm or Chilbil in Hindi), Cheno-Amaranth, and Casuarina.
Read Further: Aerial Pollen Diversity in India and Their Clinical Significance in Allergic Diseases, by A.B. Singh and Pawan Kumar. PDF
- Genetics also plays an important role in causing hay fever. Toddlers born to parents with allergies of any kind have a high probability of developing hay fever.
- A poor diet, weak digestive system, or low health could trigger hay fever in toddlers. Similarly, toddlers who have a tendency to respiratory infections are also likely to develop seasonal allergies.
Toddlers with hay fever have a very sensitive immune system causing the harmless pollen to be viewed as a dangerous intruder. The body then overreacts and releases histamines. These histamines swell the nasal passage and/or dilate the eyes.
[ Read: TB In Toddlers ]
How To Treat Hay Fever In Toddlers?
Hay Fever cannot be cured completely, but its impact can be reduced with proper care and certain lifestyle changes. Doctors often prescribe antihistamines to provide immediate relief from symptoms. But symptoms may recur later among toddlers exposed to allergens. Eye drops are also prescribed to treat itchiness in the eyes. Unfortunately, all of these are symptomatic treatment and do not address the underlying problem.
Parents should aim to enhance immunity and the general health of the toddler, especially before the hay fever season begins. Some common home remedies include:
- Local honey contains pollen from the surrounding plants. Give your toddler a spoonful of this honey every day before the hay fever season starts. This is the best preventive medicine that helps to boost his immunity.
- Amla is an excellent anti-allergy food. The juice of this fruit mixed with honey prevents seasonal allergies.
- Turmeric has anti-allergy properties. Add this to warm milk to remove toxins and purify the blood.
- Garlic: Add garlic to your toddler’s diet- include them when you make naan, parathas, and daal.
- Manjishta is another common herb given to cleanse the blood and build resistance from allergens.
Doctors also prescribe immunotherapy as a long term therapy, especially to toddlers with severe hay fever. Small doses of allergens are gradually introduced to desensitize the body.
[ Read: Vomiting In Toddlers ]
You cannot completely avoid getting hay fever, but can prevent the allergic reaction by reducing the toddler’s exposure to pollen and other allergens.
- Keep your toddler away from chemical irritants like floor cleaners, insect sprays, room fresheners, etc.
- Keep your house clean and free from dust.
- Minimize outdoor activity during the hay fever season.
- Wash his hands and face after he comes indoors.
- Do not dry your toddler’s cloth outside. They attract pollen and other allergens while drying.
- Control your toddler’s sugar intake. Sugar decreases the body’s immunity.
- Control wheat intake. Wheat belongs to the grass family and is likely to trigger seasonal allergies.
- Cut down on packaged food that contains artificial colors and flavors.
Hay fever isn’t a serious problem. But without proper care, your toddler has a higher chance of developing asthma later in his life. Do share how did you treat your toddler with hay fever with other moms below.
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