What is hay fever, and how can you treat this common allergy?
Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose – you know summer’s here when hay fever kicks in! And with 15%-20% of people in the UK suffering, you and your family aren’t alone.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen. In Britain most people are affected by grass pollen, although flowers, trees and even mould can cause it.
Your toddler’s also more likely to suffer if there’s a family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever.
These vary from being mild and irritating to severe, causing major disruption to you and your toddler’s lives.
Symptoms usually appear between May and July, and can include:
When it comes to hay fever, the best advice for is to stay inside as much as possible (with windows closed!), especially in the early morning and evening, when pollen counts are higher.
If your toddler has been out and about and is suffering, give him a bath and wash his hair when he does come in.
When outside, wearing sunglasses will protect his eyes, and smearing Vaseline around his eyes and nose can help catch pollen.
If his eyes are affected, soothe them with a cool, damp flannel. Keeping eyes shut helps, as blinking may irritate them. If just one eye is affected, keep it closed by placing a hankie against it behind a pair of glasses.
Drug treatments vary and partly depend on the symptoms. The treatments are similar for adults and children (though pregnant women need get medical advice from a pharmacist or a doctor). Most treatments are available without a prescription.
You may know which type of pollen is causing your toddler’s hay fever. If you’re unsure, the timing of his symptoms may give a clue. Grass pollen is typically early June for 4-6 weeks, although it’s earlier in the south and later in the north.
Dr Lowri Kew, GP
If your toddler is short of breath or is wheezing, an asthma inhaler (prescribed by your GP) is useful.
If your toddler’s nose is badly affected, a steroid nose spray can help. These are available over the counter for adults, but are prescription only for your child. Ideally, this should be used about four weeks before you anticipate symptoms.
Antihistamines treat all symptoms and can be taken from 1 year – ask your pharmacist for one that’s appropriate. Antihistamines are the best treatment for multiple symptoms in your toddler, especially as toddlers often hate eye drops and nose sprays. However, if they’re needed, he’ll get used to them with enough practice!
“Riley has hay fever, and I find the only way to alleviate it is to give him antihistamine medicine. It hits him hard when the grass has been cut, but giving him medicine when mowing begins helps for a while. I’ve read recently that a teaspoon of local, fresh honey every day – starting as early as possible before the good weather arrives and the symptoms start – can help build up a child’s immunity. I’d like to give it a go and see what happens.”
Emma, 24, mum to Riley, 2
What about 'Rhinolight' treatment?
I spotted the name while browsing the internet.
Their own website looks quite serious. This is very exciting. They claim that its suitable for children and pregnant women but is it really so effective?
Has anyone had a chance to try it?
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