Millions of Canadians, especially kids, suffer from seasonal allergies and asthma. When their immune system identifies a normally harmless material as a threat, it can set off symptoms like sniffles, sneezes, rashes, or breathing problems.

With the right precautions, you can allow your children to keep enjoying the great outdoors and limit the risk of asthma attacks.

What are seasonal allergies?

When trees and grasses begin growing in the spring and early summer, they release light, powdery pollen that floats in the wind. If you’re allergic to this pollen, it can result in sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, a runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes. For some people with asthma, pollen can also trigger an asthma attack.

How to enjoy the great outdoors without allergies symptoms?

Here are a few tips to help your children enjoy outdoors without allergies symptoms:

    • Keep windows closed so pollen can’t drift in. Air conditioning will keep you more comfortable in hot, humid weather. But don’t forget that air conditioners also create the best conditions (damp and dark) for mould to grow in your home. Do some spring-cleaning, and do it regularly.
    • If possible, let your child inside when pollen counts are high (watch for these in weather reports) and on windy days when pollen and spores can get blown around. Avoid being outdoors in the early morning hours (between 5 am and 10 am), when pollen counts are usually highest.
    • If your child has been outside all day, remove all its clothing and put it aside to be laundered, and take a shower after coming home. This will prevent your kid from taking all that pollen to bed.
    • Don’t hang your laundry outside to dry – it can trap pollen and mould, bringing them inside. Use your dryer instead.

An effective control of allergies may lead to better control of asthma. Unfortunately, asthma attacks cannot always be prevented.

How to control asthma symptoms?

Experts know that allergies and asthma are related. In fact, children with allergies often have asthma and a skin condition known as atopic dermatitis (eczema) as well. Seeing your child have an asthma attack can be worrisome and very frightening, and can make you feel unsure of what to do the next time an attack occurs. 

What to do in case of an asthma attack due to seasonal allergies?

If your child has an asthma attack, here’s what to do:

    • Act calm and confident and speak to the child reassuringly.
    • Give the asthma-reliever medications at the very start of an attack, as directed by your doctor.
    • Try to determine what triggered the attack, and then remove it (or the child) from the area.
    • Follow the action plan designed with your pediatric allergist. The goal of the action plan is to have no asthma symptoms at all (i.e., no wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath).  If your child uses a peak flow meter, take a measurement to use with the action plan.
    • If the attack is under control, you can relax. If it isn’t, follow the action plan– you may need to call the doctor or get immediate medical attention.

You can be your child’s most important ally in controlling asthma. Inform teachers, principals, school nurses, coaches, and babysitters of the asthma, what triggers it, and what should be done during an attack. As kids get older, you can teach them to manage their asthma themselves. And if you’re a smoker, try to quit, or at least don’t smoke in the house – smoke aggravates asthma symptoms.

Get health advice from a pediatric allergist

The best option to manage your child with seasonal allergies and asthma symptoms, is to talk to your pediatric allergist.

immunotherapy and pollen desensitization for children

Pollen desensitization

Pollen desensitization can be used to limit the symptoms and aggravation of seasonal allergies. Also known as immunotherapy, this treatment aims to reduce a person’s sensitivity to pollen allergens by gradually exposing the immune system to increasing quantities of these allergens. The process usually takes 3 to 5 years. Desensitization is possible for children aged 5 and over, but may not be recommended for certain severe cases of asthma. Talk to your doctor.

Allergy medicine for children

There are eye drops, nasal sprays, oral antihistamines and anti-allergy medications, sinus rinses, and even allergy shots that can be helpful in treating specific allergies. Many treatments are available without a prescription, but others will need a prescription from your doctor.

Medications to treat asthma in children

Your child’s doctor and pharmacist will recommend the right medication(s), doses and delivery devices for your child to treat an asthma attack. These can come in such forms as aerosol inhaler, turbuhaler, or diskus. They will also learn you how to give the medications properly and conceive an “action plan” in case of asthma attack.

Do you have questions about seasonal allergies and asthma affecting your child? Book an appointment with our pediatric allergists in Montreal.

Book an appointment

The ELNA Medical clinics offer pediatric allergy consultations and allergy skin testing to determine what your children are allergic to, and how severe the allergy is. Based on the outcome of this testing, we recommend an allergy treatment plan that may include medication, desensitization through allergy serums or immunotherapy. Stop suffering and ask your family physician for a referral for a consultation with one of our allergists and immunologists today.

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