You don’t need me to tell you it’s allergy season. The runny nose, itchy throat and watery eyes give it away. Our clinic in Arlington is full of children dealing with allergies of their own.

Unfortunately, for many children, allergies are simply a way of life in Texas. Usually, allergies occur in kids beginning at the age 2 years and older.

Physicians don’t know why some children suffer reactions when exposed to allergens such as pollen, ragweed and mold that can cause allergic symptoms, while others experience no problems at all.

Sometimes parents aren’t sure if their child has a cold or allergies. Some say you can tell by looking at the mucus. That’s not really the case. The only way to tell for sure is by seeing your pediatrician. But if your child develops cold-like symptoms at the same time every year (now for instance), he or she probably suffer from seasonal allergies.

Symptoms of allergies are often times similar to a cold – sneezing, itchy nose and/or throat, nasal congestion, clear, runny nose and coughing. With a cold, the symptoms run its course over a matter of days. With an allergy, the symptoms last as long as the child is exposed to allergens.

Parents need to be especially careful that your child doesn’t develop wheezing and/or shortness of breath. That may mean your child’s allergies have progressed into asthma.

Though we don’t understand the cause, physicians do realize that there are simple treatments available that can help kids retain their quality of life during an allergy occurrence.

It’s possible to relieve allergy symptoms by eliminating or reducing a child’s exposure to allergens. A key, as you hear so often with colds and flu, is for your child to wash his or her hands often. Also, children should change clothing and shower after playing outside. Please don’t let your child mow the lawn during this time of year if they suffer from allergies.

Educating your child early about what causes allergic reactions and allergy symptoms is a crucial step in helping your child reduce or prevent allergic reactions.

Sometimes no matter how much you try to prevent allergy symptoms in your child, they still occur. Fortunately, various treatments are available to help your child when an allergic reaction happens, including:

  • Over-the-counter medications. Some decongestants, antihistamines and nasal sprays can be purchased without a prescription. But even if you are thinking about picking up something from the drug store, please do not do so without contacting your pediatrician. 
  • Prescription medications. Those with more severe allergies might need stronger versions of over-the-counter medications prescribed by their pediatrician.
  • Immunotherapy. Also known as allergy shots, these injections of allergens into the body help patients build tolerance to help relieve symptoms.

Eventually, your child might grow out of his or her allergy. However, until he or she does, talk to a pediatrician or allergy specialist to determine the best treatment option for your child.

Vuong Dao, D.O., is a Cook Children’s pediatrician located at 3131 S. Center St. in Arlington, Texas. To make an appointment with him, call 817-375-1413. Dr. Dao is board-certified in pediatrics and has been with Cook Children’s Physician Network since 2008. Outside of the office, his interests include black and white photography, cycling, tennis, snow skiing and volleyball.

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