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Allergy & Asthma Expert Q&A

June 19, 2021

John Oppenheimer, MD

Summer can be challenging if your child suffers from seasonal allergies.  To reduce the negative impact of seasonal allergies on your child’s summer, John Oppenheimer, MD, allergy and asthma specialist at Atlantic Medical Group Pulmonology, Sleep, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine answers some of the questions most frequently asked by parents about seasonal allergies and children.

1. What are seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergens are various airborne proteins that induce an immune and inflammatory response in the nasal membranes, eyes, and, potentially, the lungs.  Generally, the spring and summer allergens include trees and grasses, while the fall allergens include weeds.

2. What should I do if my child complains of seasonal allergies?  

The good news is there are many effective therapies that can be tailored to a child’s specific set of symptoms.  For example, children with greater nasal complaints may benefit from nasal anti-inflammatory therapy, while those suffering a mild nasal itching may do well with a simple antihistamine. 

Unfortunately, antihistamines alone will not aid more severe nasal complaints, especially nasal stuffiness, which is why therapy should be tailored to the symptoms.

3.  What if my child wants to stay home from school or summer camp because of seasonal allergies?  

By being proactive with intervention, and seeking the advice of a physician, there is no need for children to be limited in their activities due to seasonal allergies.

4.  What types of treatments are available if my child suffers from chronic seasonal allergies?

This can vary.  The most common courses of treatment are antihistamines, nasal anti-inflammatory therapy, and, in those who have failed other therapies or with more prolonged seasonal effects, allergy shots.

6.  Is there a way to determine if my child’s seasonal allergies are “normal” or caused by something more serious, such as asthma?

Certainly, allergies can trigger asthma.  Therefore, it is important to better understand the level of symptoms and specifically if they are progressing in an asthmatic direction.  Treatment would be tailored based upon the patient's symptoms.  Studies have demonstrated the importance of treating the nasal component in those with accompanying asthma.

7.  How do I know when it's time to see a specialist about my child's seasonal allergies?

If you are not seeing a response to over-the-counter therapy, that is a good reason to see a specialist for more in-depth diagnosis and treatment.

8. How do I know whether I should seek emergency care during an allergy attack?  

Always, a major concern regarding seasonal allergies would be that they trigger an asthma attack. If the signs and symptoms of your child’s allergic reaction become severe or involve multiple parts of the body or organ systems (such as a rash and labored breathing) it is best to treat it like a medical emergency.