With the snow melting and warmer months quickly approaching, we’re quaking with anticipatory excitement for sunny weather, soaking in the beautiful rays and spending time with our friends and family. However, among these pre-planned events is a problem that keeps us from living our best lives and prevents our young children from running and frolicking with the neighborhood youth: spring allergies and asthma.
Spring allergies, in general terms, is a catch-all phrase used to describe the experience of runny noses, watery eyes, itchy skin and an overall sense of yuckiness that occurs when winter concludes. Although each child’s experience is unique to their biological makeup, the main culprit behind spring allergies relates to newfound pollen floating through the air.
Pollen is a powdery substance with a yellowish hue that assists with the reproduction of plants around the globe. Every granule of pollen contains the genetic material to support plant life, and it uses wind currents, bees and other critters to spread across vast distances. To put it bluntly: without pollen, humans would cease to exist. But there’s a catch — pollen wreaks havoc on the delicate linings of our airways.
Spring Allergies 101
Before making a trip to your pediatrician’s office for treatment for spring allergies, let’s cover the basics. First and foremost, does your child have spring allergies or another common ailment? To know the answer to this question, consult with the following list of symptoms associated with spring allergies:
Itchy, watery eyes
Bouts of fatigue
Conversely, spring allergies sometimes present harsh side effects like fever, sore throat, dark discharge when coughing and achy joints and ligaments. If your child comes to you with these symptoms, it’s an indication of something more severe, such as a respiratory infection, flu, COVID-19 or bronchitis. The vast majority of young children who enter a pediatrician’s office have the three usual suspects: itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion with a runny nose.
Signs to Look For
Children are durable little machines that never run out of energy — oh, how envious we are of their ability to go and go! When they get sick — outside of rare instances of severe illness — they, for lack of a better term, “suck it up.” For a parent, this can present the oh-so-fun game of trying to decipher what sickness your child is battling.
First and foremost: look for the sweater tissue. Before you scratch your head in confusion, let’s explain. Sweater tissue is the cutesy term used when a child rubs their runny nose on the sleeve of their sweater while running and playing with buddies. Rarely will a child come to a parents’ side and say, “I’m sick, will you help?” Instead, they rub their little nose on their sleeve and go about their business.
From here, look for the puffy, blood-shot eyes. If your child looks like they haven’t slept in a week, there’s a good possibility that spring allergies are wrecking their ocular region. Once this occurs, the delicate under-eye area fills with inflammation and tenderness, forming a gentle red-pink hue around the exterior of their adorable eyes.
After this, we must step back and listen to their breathing patterns, specifically through their nasal passage. Although it may provide a bit of comical relief, if your child makes the notorious “oink” while breathing heavily, pollen is to blame. The inner passages of their nose fill with thick mucus, making it a challenge for oxygen-rich air to pass into their lungs. After the mucus lines their airway, breathing sounds like pig oink or snort.
Asthma and Spring Allergies
If dealing with spring allergies with healthy airways is an inconvenience, children who struggle with asthma have it worse. Asthma’s clinical definition is when a child’s airways become mucus-filled, constricted and swollen, making it a struggle to push oxygen throughout their system.
Since spring allergies produce similar effects to asthma, children who deal with the condition have potent side effects. Symptoms such as wheezing when trying to breathe, low stamina, choking-like sensations and excess mucus production are common for asthma patients who battle spring allergies.
Although pollen is highly effective at inducing asthma symptoms, it’s far from the only spring-time culprit parents need to be aware of when monitoring their children. Here is a brief list of external variables that exacerbate and asthma and spring allergies tenfold:
Pet dander and hair
Rapid temperature fluctuations
Anxiety and stress from school
Stomach indigestion from spicy foods
Each of these variables works in conjunction with spring allergies to compound the effects of your child’s asthma. Whether you’re a parent or guardian who wants to keep their child safe and protected in the warm months to come, keeping these factors at bay is a necessity.
Holistic At-Home Treatment and Prevention of Spring Allergies and Asthma
Let’s face it: kids are meant to play with their friends and create lifelong memories that they won’t soon forget. Bogging them down with a strenuous regimen of rules and regulations is no fun, so what can a worried parent do to thwart off asthma attacks and spring allergies?
First, monitor the weather and humidity in their air. Respiratory attacks and asthma episodes love cold air, and when your child runs and plays in frigid temperatures, their airways scream for relief. If keeping your rugrat indoors on a cool day is impossible, ensure they’re wearing proper protection over their mouth and nose. A simple mask or cover with their favorite cartoons or superheroes is a perfect way to encourage productive behavior.
Another step we can take as parents is keeping a humidifier indoors. As stated earlier, asthma, spring allergies and cold weather go together like milk and cereal. When we introduce moisture into the air, it helps our child’s airways expand and contract normally.
And if you’ve tried everything under the sun and don’t know where to turn, here are recommendations that as holistic pediatricians would recommend to parents whose child struggles with asthma and spring allergies:
Saline solution in the nose
New air filters in the home or an air purifier in the bedroom
LOCAL Honey 1 spoon per day (only if older than 1 year of age)
Supplementing with probiotics
Consuming foods rich with vitamin C
Staying indoors for the morning hours. Pollen peaks in the mornings, so staying indoors until 10AM helps breathing in the pollen.
If parents use a combination of these holistic, over-the-counter remedies for their child’s allergies, their asthma may improve, as well.
Get the Relief Your Child Deserves
Children need to be active and play to formulate the social bonds for future development. By reducing asthma attacks and spring-allergy-inducing variables from their daily activities, you give them the opportunity to become the best version of themselves.