How to Conquer Allergy Season

Philip Weiss, M.D.

Ah, springtime! The weather is finally warming up, the sun is making its long-awaited reappearance, and everybody is in a cheerier mood. You and your family step outside to take in the pleasant weather when suddenly you notice it. Everything outside is coated in a fine film of greenish-yellow, a fitting omen of the mucus to come (excuse the gross visual, but let’s be real: what parent isn’t all too familiar with perpetually-runny noses?)  

Allergy season is here. While some might deal with year-long allergies, most suffer from seasonal pollen allergies in the spring and fall along with some not-so-fun cameos throughout the summer. Even though the peak of allergy season only lasts a month or two, it can sometimes seem to last forever.

So how do we know when we’re being hit by allergies? Its primary symptoms are the general “yucky feeling” traits: itchy eyes, runny noses, coughing, headaches, sore throats, and sinus soreness. Note that if you have a fever, you’re probably dealing with another ailment.

Now that we know how we feel during allergy season, what are the external cues to tell us when it’s happening? The main indicator is a high pollen count, though many suffer from the above symptoms even with a medium or low pollen count. The unfortunate reality of life in Atlanta is that we tend to have dozens of days with high or the dreaded extremely high pollen counts, such as 2018, when we had 50+ such days. Make sure to check the weather report or an online database for this information, because the pollen that you see (the aforementioned yellow grossness) is actually too coarse to cause internal trouble. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there!

In addition to tracking the pollen count, keep in mind that allergies are genetic, so if one or both parents is susceptible to allergies, then your child is at a higher risk of having them as well. If you know of existing allergies, you should start treating them before symptoms start to appear. It’s always better to be proactive…better to put on sunscreen than to get sunburned!

Speaking of treating allergies, what are the best tricks in doing so? First, make sure to stay inside as much as you can when pollen counts are high. I know it’s tough, especially once the weather gets nice, but the less exposure you have to the pollinated outdoors, the better for your allergies! It wouldn’t hurt to close the windows as well. Also, if you’ve been outside for a while, change your clothes ASAP and even take a quick shower because the last thing you want to do is bring any more pollen into your house. If the symptoms start to get really bad, you’ll want to take the right medicine.

When dealing with allergies, lots of people grab Benadryl, which is an antihistamine that makes them drowsy. I can’t imagine many of your little ones are operating heavy machinery, but I’d recommend they not do so, especially after taking Benadryl! If you want to take an oral medicine that won’t knock you out, I’d recommend Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra, which are antihistamines as well, but of the non-drowsy variation. There’s also the option of using eye drops or nasal sprays, which are available over-the-counter. As is the case with any medical advice that I offer, make sure to discuss any medications with your pediatrician or allergist and get a prescription.

I hope that you and your family find this guide helpful in managing the treacherous of allergy season. While you and your kids might have a tough couple of days as you transition into it, following these simple tips will hopefully limit the number of tantrums thrown per day and thus make everybody’s allergy season a little better!

Philip Weiss, M.D.
Dr. Weiss attended college at the University of Michigan. He obtained his medical degree and did his residency at Emory University. He is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the Medical Association of Georgia. He has been with North Atlanta Pediatric Associates since 1996. Dr. Weiss is married with two adult children named Jamie and Joey. He enjoys spending time with his family, gardening, cooking, and swimming. Please note: Joey Weiss acts as ghostwriter for these articles.
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