Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, dust, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches and cigarette smoke. Though allergies are a very common problem, according to WebMD, “allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system to usually harmless substances in the environment. “
Hay fever affects nearly 40% of all children. It’s been labeled “the most common chronic disease of childhood” by medical professionals. It is however uncommon for children under the age of 2 to have hay fever, due to infants not having had enough exposure to pollen and other allergens to have developed an immune response to it. On average, babies with hay fever experience cold like symptoms including: congestion, sniffling and runny nose, red watery itchy eyes, headache, sneezing and coughing. In some extreme cases all these symptoms may be accompanied by sleep disruption and wheezing.
These symptoms will be prevalent during specific times of the year. Usually during the months of April and May the culprit is tree pollen, and from May through July, grass. Throughout the autumn months ragweed pollen is high and could be to blame.
Bear in mind that other allergens, such as pet dander, dust and dust mites, just to name a few, can trigger hay fever symptoms year round. Once you’ve established the pattern of occurrences of hay fever you and your family will be better prepared to deal with it. It’s important to keep these allergies in check.
There are a wide range of anti-histamines and decongestants available over the counter; however the majority of them are not suitable for infants. Be sure to check with your baby’s doctor or the pharmacist before administering any of these medications. In addition, if you are breastfeeding and also suffer from hay fever you should consult your doctor before taking any medications for relief, as some are not recommended while breastfeeding.
Knowing what to look for and how to treat hay fever symptoms is the first step in helping to relieve some of your infants discomfort and your family’s peace of mind.
The first thing you should make yourself aware of is the pollen count. This can usually be found on the weather forecasts and will give you a good idea of how much pollen is expected to be in the air. Pollen levels are usually at their highest first thing in the morning and during the early evening hours. It’s best to minimize outdoor activities during these times on high pollen days. In addition, keep doors and windows closed and use an air conditioning system instead.
If you have indoor/outdoor pets, be sure to wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove pollen residue. Wash your baby’s face and hands after being outdoors. The best way to treat hay fever is to stay away from the allergens that cause the symptoms.
Also available are saline nose drops. You can get saline nose drops at any pharmacy. Use a suction bulb to clear mucus from your baby’s nose whenever they are having difficulty breathing through their nose. Decongestant nose drops and sprays are not recommended for children under six years of age. I would not suggest using them unless instructed to do so by your baby’s doctor.
To alleviate some of your infant’s discomfort, you can give an infant dose of Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Never give a baby aspirin. However, preventative measures seem to be the best method of treatment.