The Pacific Northwest is home to a variety of year-round pollens—from trees and grass in the spring and summer, to weeds and molds in the fall and winter. Those allergy triggers can make children and adults who experience seasonal allergies quite miserable.

“We want to treat your child’s allergy symptoms, especially if they have asthma because allergies can exacerbate a child’s breathing problems,” says pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.

Is it allergies or a cold?
Allergy symptoms can often be confused with a common cold. So, how can you tell the difference?

Signs your child is having a reaction to seasonal allergens include:

  • Congestion that lasts for more than two weeks
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Runny nose (clear, watery nasal discharge)
  • Sneezing
  • Ear congestion
  • Postnasal drainage
  • Itchy or dry throat
  • Persistent cough

“Coughing is particularly true in the morning when they wake up and at night when they’re trying to sleep,” says Dr. Bradshaw. “Other times, you’ll hear an asthmatic kid cough when they need to get a lot of air. For example, when they’re exercising or they’re laughing, crying, yelling or singing; those are times when kids with asthma will have trouble.”

Treating allergies
If your child is sensitive to outdoor allergens, use an air conditioner when possible. Many over-the-counter medications can also be effective, including eye drops, nasal sprays and oral antihistamines.

Dr. Bradshaw also recommends having your child shower or bathe at the end of the day to remove allergens from their body and hair. “Because if they go to bed having just played outside, there’ll be millions of tiny bits of pollen in their hair, which will then get onto their pillow and into their eyes and nose all night long.”

If you think your child might have allergies, see your pediatrician to get an accurate diagnosis. If your child’s allergy symptoms are not able to be controlled by the medications your pediatrician recommends, or if you’re having a difficult time managing your child’s asthma with your primary care provider, your child may need to see an allergy specialist.