Hay fever usually affects children from the age of seven, and older children and teenagers are more susceptible to the allergy than adults. Hay fever symptoms, including itchy eyes and a running nose, can be particularly distressing for children.
The hay fever season in the UK starts during the spring. Look out for symptoms from March to October.
Sometimes hay fever can be confused with a virus. The way to tell the difference is by how long the symptoms last. If it's a virus, they should only last for a week or two. If your child has a constant runny nose and is sneezing every day for part of the year but not in the winter, it's a sign that they may be allergic to something.
If your child doesn't like taking tablets, antihistamines are also available as a liquid. Other treatments include steroid nasal sprays. Eye drops can be particularly useful if eye symptoms are one of the main symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Pollen is released in the early morning. As the air warms up, the pollen is carried up above our heads. As evening comes and the air cools, pollen comes back down. This means that symptoms are usually worse first thing in the morning and early evening, particularly on days that have been warm and sunny. To reduce your child's exposure to pollens:
- Keep windows closed at night so pollen doesn't enter the house.
- Buy your child a pair of wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen entering their eyes.
- Smear petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another pollen blocker around the inside of your child's nose to trap pollen and stop it being inhaled.
- Wash your child's hair, face and hands when they come back indoors, and change their clothes.
- Don't let them play in fields or large areas of grassland.
- Use air filters to try to reduce pollen that's floating around the house.
- Keep the car windows shut when driving.