Ahhhh, springtime! Flowers blooming, green leaves blossoming, temperatures rising. But wait: Not everyone cherishes the end of winter. Allergy sufferers would gladly endure another snowstorm if it meant an extra day with clear nasal passages. We sure do take our breath for granted—except when it’s taken away. It’s amazing how allergies and coughs can interrupt a seemingly simple daily action like breathing. Suddenly, all your child can think about is wheezing and phlegm. If she is coughing right now, read on to identify the right ailment and best course of treatment.
Spring and fall most frequently trigger seasonal allergies, an immune-system response when the body mistakenly interprets substances like tree, grass, and plant pollens as bodily threats. The body’s immune system treats these irritants as it would germs associated with a cold or flu—it releases antibodies and histamines. It’s these histamines that generate the allergy symptoms your child experiences.
The most common symptoms include congestion, coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and watery or itchy eyes. These symptoms are most often triggered by pollens and mold. If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, and would prefer living exclusively in summer and winter, check out the treatment options in the chart at the right.
If seasonal allergies persist, your child can also try one of these additional treatments:
• Use a neti pot with non-iodized salt in distilled warm water to flush out the nasal passages and alleviate congestion.
• Eat small daily doses of locally produced honey (for those children 1 year and older). Honey produced by bees theoretically contains bits of local flower pollens that can act to desensitize sensitive immune systems and help your child more easily tolerate seasonal pollen exposures.
• Increase consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flax seeds, or walnuts (assuming your child is not allergic to these foods), known for anti-inflammatory actions.
Here’s hoping the coughing and wheezing can be replaced with clear breathing and restful sleep.
Adapted with permission from Treatment Alternatives for Children (Penguin Group USA, Inc., 2012) by Lawrence Rosen, MD and Jeff Cohen.
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