Hay Fever In Babies: Symptoms, Causes, And Tips To Manage

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Hay fever in babies mostly affects the nasal passages. It is also called allergic rhinitis since it is an allergic reaction to common allergens. The condition tends to be common when there are more airborne allergens, such as more pollen in the air during certain months. Most cases of hay fever can be managed easily by avoiding allergens (1).

Read on to know more about hay fever and methods to tackle and avoid these allergens.

Is Hay Fever Genetic?

Babies with a family history of allergies such as rhinitis, eczema, severe asthma, or hay fever are more likely to develop hay fever. Allergies, including hay fever, usually occur due to inappropriate responses of a hypersensitive immune system. This is often a result of genetic anomalies. Therefore, a child may inherit faulty genes, which may manifest as hay fever (2).

Allergies may also occur randomly, and babies without a family history of allergies may also develop hay fever. Also, in some cases, allergies may occur in another form in subsequent generations. For instance, the parent may have eczema, but the baby may develop hay fever.

Symptoms Of Hay Fever In Babies And Toddlers

Hay fever is seasonal. Symptoms develop when the body reacts to allergens and releases the compound called histamine. A baby with hay fever will display the following signs and symptoms compound called histamine. A baby with hay fever will display the following signs and symptoms (1)(3).

  • Red and watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Irritability

Hay fever symptoms may sometimes overlap with that of a virus, making it difficult to figure out the condition. Your baby is likely to have hay fever and not something else if symptoms:

  • Do not clear up after a few days
  • Do not develop a fever
  • Only occur in the summer or spring months
  • Get better when the baby is away from potential allergens, such as grass, weeds, or trees

Causes And Triggers Of Hay Fever In Babies

Seasonal allergies, including hay fever, occur during spring, summer, and fall. Pollen is usually the leading cause of this allergic reaction. Other triggers include animal fur (dander), dust mites, fungal spores, and smoke.

Below are the three primary pollen triggers that may lead to hay fever in babies(4).

  • Tree pollen causes spring allergies typically from March to June. The common triggers are birch, cedar, maple, oak, and pine.
  • Grass pollen causes allergies from April to July. Grasses, including orchard, Bermuda, rye, brome, and Timothy, cause symptoms in late spring and early summer.
  • Weed pollen, including ragweed, plantain, nettle, sage, and chenopod, cause allergies between August to October.

When To Call A Doctor?

If you notice your baby experiencing the symptoms throughout the year, it is best to see your child’s pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition through an assessment of symptoms and medical history. You must also see a doctor if the allergy is accompanied by fever and affects the baby’s sleeping and feeding habits.

Hay Fever Diagnosis In Babies

During the diagnosis, your baby’s pediatrician may find:

  • Creases under the eyes
  • Swollen tissue in the nose
  • Dark circles under the eyes

The doctor can order a blood test and a skin prick test to confirm the diagnosis (1).

Tips To Manage Hay Fever In Babies

There is no cure for hay fever since it is a type of allergy. However, you can effectively manage it with the right precautions. Here are some ways to manage and prevent hay fever symptoms in your baby(5).

  • Wash your baby’s face with cold water to remove pollen if they develop red eyes.
  • Put on sunglasses and a brimmed hat on your baby whenever you take them outside.
  • Take a note of the daily pollen count in your suburb or region. Babies who are very sensitive to pollen might experience hay fever symptoms when the count is as low as ten.
  • Avoid taking your baby to gardens and parks when the pollen count is high.
  • Wash your baby’s face, hands, and hair, and change their clothes after your baby has been outside.
  • Do not dry clothes outside on high pollen days. This will prevent pollen from getting stuck on the clothing.
  • Give a quick clean to your pets to get rid of pollen.

Making changes in your baby’s lifestyle can significantly help reduce triggers and let the baby thrive. Consult a pediatrician if you wish to try medications to manage your baby’s hay fever.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does hay fever get worse at night?

Pollen levels usually peak at night. During the daytime, the pollen rises with warm air, and as night falls, the air begins to cool, and the pollen fall to the ground. Some plants also release pollen in the evening, making hay fever worse at night (6).

2. Can toddlers grow out of hay fever?

The probability of outgrowing allergies depends mainly on the type of allergy and its severity. Most toddlers may not outgrow seasonal allergies or hay fever.

3. How do I make my baby with hay fever sleep at night?

Babies with hay fever may find sleeping difficult at night with their uncomfortable symptoms. You may help them by using an air purifier in the room, closing the doors and windows, and keeping the surrounding dust-free (7). You may also use nasal saline spray for babies to help relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (8). However, talk to your pediatrician before using any nasal spray for children.

Hay fever in babies mainly affects the nose. It is most common during spring and summer, and if diagnosed early, it can be managed with ease. However, avoiding specific triggers that may lead to the issue is the best way to reduce the probability of getting hay fever. Keep the windows closed, use air conditioning, and stay indoors when pollen counts are high to control its symptoms. Try all these tips to keep your baby away from allergic reactions and irritability.

Key Pointers

  • Runny nose, red, watery, and itchy eyes, frequent sneezing, and wheezing are common hay fever symptoms in babies.
  • Genetic and environmental factors such as positive family history, tree pollen, or grass pollen may trigger this condition.
  • If your little one has an allergy along with fever and their sleep cycle is disrupted, contact the pediatrician immediately.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Hay fever; The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
2. De-Yun Wang, Risk factors of allergic rhinitis: genetic or environmental?; U.S. National Library of Medicine
3. Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis); Harvard University
4. Pollen and Children; University of Rochester Medical Center
5. Seasonal Allergies; American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
6. Seasonal variation in diurnal atmospheric grass pollen concentration profiles; Bio geosciences
7. Allergies and Sleep; Sleep Foundation
8. Nasal saline for allergic rhinitis; Cochrane
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Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo did MBA from Osmania University and holds a certificate in Developmental Psychology from The University of Queensland. The zoologist-botanist turned writer-editor has over 8 years of experience in content writing, content marketing, and copywriting. He has also done an MBA in marketing and human resources and worked in the domains of market research and e-commerce. Rohit writes topics... more

Dr. Raju C Shah

(MD, DPed, FIAP, FRCPCH (UK))
Dr. Raju Shah is the medical director of the Ankur Institute of Child Health and is a former professor and head of the department of pediatrics at the GCS Medical College, both in Ahmedabad, India. He obtained his MBBS in 1970 and MD in pediatrics in 1974 from the B. J. Medical College in Ahmedabad and trained in vaccinology at... more

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