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Breathe Easier Knowing Spring's Pollen Triggers
Date:4/5/2009

Children are especially vulnerable to seasonal allergies, so be prepared, expert says

SUNDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Spring can be challenging if your child is one of the more than 35 million Americans with hay fever. But a bit of preparation can help the youngster enjoy being outside, one expert says.

This involves three steps, explained Dr. Clay Stallworth, a pediatrician with MCG Pediatric Primary Care Associates and MCGHealth Children's Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.:

  • Know if your child has allergies and what causes them.
  • Find out when plant pollination will occur.
  • Begin treatments before symptoms appear.

Allergies tend to run in families. If both parents have allergies, their children have a 75 percent to 80 percent chance of developing allergies, Stallworth noted. The risk drops to 40 percent if one parent is allergic. Children usually develop seasonal allergies at 5 to 6 years old, but they can develop them at any age, even as adults, he added.

Signs of allergies include:

  • Sneezing more often than usual
  • Eyes that continually water
  • Cold symptoms that last more than 10 days without fever
  • Repeated ear and sinus infections
  • Prolonged loss of smell or taste
  • Frequent throat clearing or hoarseness
  • Persistent coughing

The best way to prevent allergies is to limit exposure, and Stallworth outlined some ways to do that:

  • Schedule outdoor activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rainfall, when pollen levels are lower. Pollen index levels fluctuate from day to day, but you can find out what they are by checking local weather reports.
  • Close windows and doors and use air conditioning instead of window fans. Air conditioning helps filter out pollen particles.
  • When landscaping, choose plants that don't aggravate allergies.

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