Wow, I couldn’t believe it yesterday when my eyes were itching me all day. Dr. Linsmeier was looking at my like I was crazy rubbing my eyes like a kid. Then I got home and both my girls were complaining how their eyes were itching all day. It is hard to believe where we live that spring is actually here, but it is. Every year I remind my allergy patients who have spring allergies to start their preventative drugs in March, but everyyear it is easily forgotten. Believe it or not, the tree allergies are starting. Even though we don’t see the blooms yet, althought I do see some flowers starting in my garden, the pollens and buds are starting in the trees. Even if you are not bothered one year, you may be bothered another year. I usually am bothered in the fall, but something is blooming now that has gotten to me.
Allergies affected millions of people. Some have itchy eyes and itchy noses. Others are sneezing, sniffing, snorting, chortling, or any other noise you can think that may come from the nose. Many others are coughing and wheezing. While your child may be active and seem ok, these symptoms can be very bothersome. They can also affect how they do in school because it can be hard to concentrate.
Allergies are caused by our bodies immune response to something that it sees as abnormal. Typically our immune response protects against bacteria and viruses that cause problems. In allergies, our immune system sees common things as dust, pollen, and dander as abnormal and mounts a response. This causes all different types of cells to come in and try to “protect” our body from these invaders. I often tell my patients it is an exaggerated response to normal parts of the enviornment, and boy can it make you miserable.
There are some simple things you can do to help your child or yourself. First, don’t sleep with your windows open. This is a hard thing to do in Wisconsin since there is not a lot of time we can enjoy the fresh air, but the pollen accumulating on pillows can really increase symptoms. Next, make sure to wash hands and even faces after playing outside, even if they weren’t rolling in the grass. Pollens are all over and can reside on the hand and then the child goes and wipes their eyes or nose and the whole process explodes.
If your child is having a lot of problems talk with your pediatrician. There are a lot of over the counter antihistamines to use and you can discuss the pros and cons of a particular one. As of today all the antihistamines we recommend, Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are over the counter. If those are not working we have an entire armenmatarium including nose sprays and eye drops.
Remember, don’t let your child suffer. We want them to enjoy the outside and not have to suffer from itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing and wheezing.