Getting a Handle on Your Child's Fall Nasal Allergies

  • It's fast approaching fall and you know what that means, don't you, parents? Yep, that's right -- ragweed pollen and outdoor mold spore counts are rising rapidly too, at least in most areas of the U.S. And that means nasal allergy symptoms may be increasing as well:

    • Runny nose
    • Stuffy nose
    • Sneezing
    • Itchy nose
    • Post-nasal drip

    The traditional treatment for nasal allergies, in both adults and children, has been oral medication, in the form of an antihistamine. Early antihistamines were effective, but made you drowsy, so they weren't always safe for kids to take. Newer antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra are generally safer and just as effective at relieving nasal allergy symptoms. And all 3 come in liquid forms, to make them easier for younger kids to take.

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    But antihistamines don't work well for all kids (or adults). And when your child's symptoms aren't being adequately controlled, he/she will be miserable. Symptoms can also interfere with your child's play or school. In addition, most kids who have allergies also have asthma. And out of control allergy symptoms can make asthma symptoms worse too. So, it's important to find an allergy treatment that works for your kid.


    Luckily, these days, there are many options for nasal allergy treatment! If oral antihistamines aren't doing it for your child, talk to your doctor about the possibility of switching to one of these:

    • Nasal steroid spray. Nasal steroids go right to the root of the problem -- literally. They act on the inflammation in the nasal membranes directly and very little of the medicine gets into the rest of the body, so that limits possible side effects. Examples are Nasonex, Flonase, Rhinocort Aqua, Veramyst (also good for eye allergies), Nasacort AQ and Omnaris.
    • Antihistamine nasal sprays. Another possible choice is an antihistamine that acts directly on the nasal membranes. These medications take effect more quickly than the oral antihistamines, and again, can have less side effects. Examples include: Astelin and Patanase.
    • Leukotriene modifiers. This type of medicine acts to block a type of cell in the immune system known to be part of the allergic response, called a leukotriene. This can help control both nasal allergy and asthma symptoms. Singulair is currently the only leukotriene blocker approved to treat allergies. Accolate and Zyflow are two other leukotriene modifiers, but they are used only to treat asthma, rather than allergies and asthma, like Singulair.
    • Xyzal. Xyzal was developed as a modification of the active ingredient in Zyrtec. The aim was to both increase effectiveness and decrease side effects. Xyzal is an oral medication.

    Remember, it's your job as a parent to do all you can to keep your child healthy. So if he or she is suffering from allergy symptoms that aren't being relieved by current treatment, be sure to talk to your pediatrician about modifying the treatment plan to better control allergy symptoms this fall. Your child will thank you for it.

Published On: September 06, 2008