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Autumn is a beautiful season in the Chicagoland area: the leaves are changing colors, football is in high gear, the temps are cooler and pumpkin-flavored treats abound. But fall’s arrival can spark serious allergy issues for youngsters—from runny noses and itchy eyes to sneezing attacks. NorthShore-affiliated Pediatrician Andrew Bernstein, MD, offers important tips for parents on how to identify seasonal allergies and manage the miserable symptoms.
Q. I thought children’s allergies occurred mainly in spring and summer when it’s warm. Why fall?
A. Fall is particularly bad for ragweed pollen. Each ragweed plant can release up to a billion lightweight pollen grains in a typical growing season between August and November. Fall also is prime season for mold, which can be released into the air with other pollens when people rake leaves.
Q. How can I tell if my child is experiencing allergies or just has a cold?
A. Parents often mistake allergy symptoms for colds. Use this chart to tell the difference:
Allergies: Colds: Sneezing,itchy ears, nose and eyes Fever or muscle aches Clear, thin and watery nasal discharge Symptoms can last seven to 10 days Symptoms can last for weeks or months Symptoms appear during specific times of the year Symptoms disappear with a change of environment
Q. Can seeing the pediatrician ease symptoms?
A. Yes. As with any other medical condition or illness, early diagnosis and treatment is important for not only alleviating symptoms but also for preventing potential complications. Your pediatrician can help find the best treatment options.
Q. What can I do to ease my child’s allergy symptoms?
A. Most pollen appears between 5 and 10 a.m., so curtail early-morning outdoor activity. Over-the-counter medication may be useful; discuss them with your pediatrician. Mowing the lawn or raking leaves can stir up pollen and mold and aggravate symptoms. In rare case, allergies can trigger breathing trouble or asthma, so give your kids a pass from those chores.