Ask Dr. Marla: We think our daughter has allergies or hay fever. What do we do?
By Dr. Marla Shapiro
on July 23, 2013
We think our 12-year-old is allergic to
pollen or has some kind of hay fever.
She gets really stuffed up and sneezy
every year at the end of the summer
into September. Is it OK to keep
giving her antihistamines? Is there
anything we can do to prevent the
onset of symptoms?
The best way to know what your child is allergic to is
to see an allergist and have testing done. There are several possible
fall allergens; ragweed pollen allergy, commonly known as hay fever,
occurs in August and September and usually peaks around Labour Day.
Many people, including children of all ages, can get good relief with
antihistamines. This type of medication stops the runny nose, watery
eyes, itching and sneezing. There are several types of antihistamines
available. Many work best when taken every day during the season. Side
effects such as sleepinees or grouchiness are quite rare. Other side effects
can include blurred eyesight, dry mouth and hard stools. It’s a good idea to
Some people, including children, will need antihistamine eye drops,
or prescription nose sprays which are steroids. If medicines don’t work,
immunotherapy (aka allergy shots) is effective at building a protection
against the allergy over time. Immunotherapy is sometimes used in severe
cases where the allergy prevents you from going about your daily living.
A series of injections are administered regularly for several years by a
specialist in a hospital or clinic. The first shots contain tiny amounts of the
allergen and the dosages increase over time, so your body adjusts to the
allergen and you become less sensitive to it.
Complete prevention is very diffi cult to achieve even though control can be
quite good with medication. Start a prescription nose spray in early August
before the pollen arrives. This, and/or immunotherapy treatment, are the best
ways to prevent or minimize the onset of symptoms.