Outdoor Sports and Allergies in Childrenby Erica Sanderson Editor
While outdoor sports are fun and good exercise, they can also present problems for children with allergies—itchy and watering eyes, scratchy throat and nasal congestion. Here are some helpful tips for kids to safely play outside and still have fun.
Know the allergy conditions in your area
Tree pollen is a major culprit for outdoor allergies. Some of the more common trouble trees include oak, maple, elm, walnut and birch. These pollens irritate tissue lining in the respiratory tract. Stay updated on your local pollen count this season through resources such as pollen.com. If the counts are very high, keep your child indoors if possible.
Look at the time
According to respiratory therapist John Bottrell, pollen counts are usually worse in the mornings between 5 to 10 a.m. You might choose to avoid enrolling your child in organized sports that practice in the mornings and try not to take them outside to play until later in the day.
Check the weather
Windy and rainy days can wreak havoc for people with allergies. Winds can carry all types of pollens for miles. Rain can also stir up allergens from the ground, making conditions worse. Check the forecast each morning. If conditions don’t look good, you may want to have your child play indoors.
After playing outside, have your child take a shower and change clothes so outdoor pollen doesn’t stick around inside the house. They should also wash their hands and face (especially around the eyes) throughout the day.
Talk to the coach and/or supervising parents
Explain your child’s condition and needs to the coach or supervisor. Show them how to use rescue medications in case they need to help the child take it. Some states require written consent for an adult to assist a child with a medical condition, so research the laws where you live. Also share all emergency contact information with them—this includes your number and your pediatrician’s number.
Educate your child
You can’t make every practice—and maybe not every game—to supervise your child’s health. To prepare your child properly, they need to be educated about what triggers their allergies, what signs to look for, and how they can treat them. Learning to take care of themselves is the best prevention for emergencies or serious flare-ups.