Seasonal Pollen Allergies

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Seasonal Pollen Allergies

"Achoo!'; It is that time of year again when our students will be exposed to pollen allergy season. So, what happens during this time of year? Well, outdoor molds release their spores and trees, grasses and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. The peak is usually at mid-morning, early evening and when the wind is blowing. This causes the air we breathe to be loaded with pollen particles.

Seasonal allergies attack the immune systems of children who are allergic to mold spores or pollen. The immune system of an allergic child treats these particles, called allergens, as invaders and release chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against these allergens. It's the release of these histamine chemicals that causes allergy symptoms.

Children can be allergic to one or more types of pollen or mold. The type a child is allergic to depends on when the symptoms happen. For example, in the mid-Atlantic states, tree pollination is February through May, grass pollen runs from May through June and weed pollen is from August through October - so children with these allergies are likely to have increased symptoms at those times. Mold spores can develop all year, especially during the fall when leaves are turning colors.

Signs and Symptoms: If your child develops a cold at the same time every year, seasonal allergies could be the issue. Allergy symptoms usually come on suddenly and last as long as the child is exposed to the allergen. Symptoms may include: Sneezing, itchy nose and throat, watery itchy eyes, nasal congestion, clear, runny nose, coughing, fatigue and headache. Symptoms of itchy, watery or red eyes, is called allergic conjunctivitis. Children who have wheezing and shortness of breath in addition to the above symptoms might have allergies that trigger asthma episodes.

If certain seasons cause allergy symptoms, keep the windows closed, use air conditioning and if possible, stay indoors when pollen/mold/weed counts are high. It's also a good idea for children with seasonal allergies to daily wash their hair, hands, shower and change their clothing after playing outside.

Some tips to combat seasonal allergies are: Using salt water nasal sprays, staying hydrated with water, steam from a shower/bath (keep tabs on the water temperature), keeping the windows closed, using an air conditioner, refrain from rubbing eyes, using soft tissues for an irritated nose, gargling to relieve sore throats, drinking warm liquids and applying warm compresses to the face may help with the sinus pressure. If your child is allergic to ragweed, they may also have a sensitivity to some foods like chamomile tea, sunflower seeds and cucumbers.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you think your child may have seasonal pollen allergies. If reducing exposure isn't possible or is ineffective, medication can help ease allergy symptoms. These may include decongestants, antihistamines and nasal spray steroids. If symptoms can't be managed with medicines, your healthcare provider may recommend taking your child to an allergist. The allergist will ask you about your child's symptoms, when they appear and based on your answers and a physical exam, he or she should be able to make a diagnosis. The allergist will also do allergy skin testing and/or allergy blood work.

The elementary school nurses can only administer over the counter medication or prescription medication, if we have a written medication order from your healthcare provider and written parental/guardian permission. All medications must be brought to school in its original pharmacy container.

Please contact the Sicomac School Nurses for any allergy questions or allergy information that you may need regarding your child's allergies. With your help, we can make this allergy season comfortable for your child.

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