Hay fever is an allergic reaction to specific allergens and is medically referred to as allergic rhinitis since it predominantly affects the nasal passages. Most babies develop it during a certain time of the year when prospective airborne allergens, such as pollen and spores, are in abundance (1). The condition can be effectively managed by avoiding allergens.
This post will tell you about hay fever in babies and how parents should tackle the allergic condition.
Is Hay Fever Genetic?
Babies with a family history of allergies, eczema, 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 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 pollens 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.
Hay fever mainly affects the nose and is most common during the spring or summer months. If diagnosed early, you can manage it better. Avoiding triggers is the best way to reduce the frequency of hay fever symptoms. Keeping the windows closed, using air conditioning, and staying indoors when pollen counts are high is advisable to keep your baby away from the allergy.
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