Spring has come and summer is just a few short weeks away! The longer, warmer days are a wonderful respite from a winter which felt like it would never end. But spring comes with a price… allergies. You step outside into the warm glow of the sun only to be smacked with a sneezing or coughing fit from those new pollinated buds of spring.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology has verified that allergy season is both getting longer and more severe every year. So just when it’s the perfect time to play outside and the kids are feeling stir crazy, allergy risk is prone to be at its highest. So how can you enjoy the outdoors without all the coughing and sneezing?
While these are some tips to help mitigate the experience of allergies, any child or adult dealing with extremely severe allergies should consult a doctor and closely follow their advice.
For us regular allergy sufferers there are ways to still enjoy the outdoors and help our children do the same.
LEARN YOUR CHILD’S TRIGGERS
There is a whole host of potential allergens lurking out of doors. Grass, Ragweed, Oak, Juniper Trees, and more! They all have different peak seasons and pollination cycles. If you start to observe that your child is particularly reactive during a few certain weeks, look to identify what’s had the highest pollen count during that period and make note. Learning what your child’s specific triggers are can help you minimize exposure and identify potential related allergens. (The site Map My Air can help you navigate your local pollen counts.)
KEEP OUTSIDE, WELL… OUTSIDE
It can be sooo tempting to throw open the windows once the weather starts to get nice; but if you suffer from allergies, this might be the wrong choice. Instead of cooling with the cross breeze, focus on judicious use of fans and air conditioners instead. This will help you keep the pollen out of your house and off your surfaces.
When you child comes back from playing outside on high pollen count days, a quick shower and change of clothes can do a world of good. This will help get rid of any residual pollen that has stuck to hair, skin, or clothes. The pollen is a lot less likely to be an irritant and to get scattered around your house when its down the drain or contained in a laundry hamper.
Consider an air purifier. While a high-quality air purifier can seem costly, you and your child’s comfort (and the cut back in the cost of tissues) may be well worth it in the long run! HEPA filters are the gold standard for air filtration. Even the smaller, home sized air purifiers can remove up to 98% of air-born allergens. Read the reviews and don’t settle for a low particulate-removal rating.
HYDRATION AND MOISTURE
Keeping your child hydrated can help cut down on and ease the discomfort of coughing fits or constant nose-blowing. Always have water close by when playing outside and encourage them to drink often.
If the air in your house is dry, a humidifier could be helpful, but you don’t want to create a steam room. Humidity over 40% could create other problems.
If you’re not ready to turn to a humidifier you can help your child reap similar benefits with a steamy shower or bath. You can maximize the steam and keep the temperature safe by starting with hot water and adding in cold. Warm tea can be similarly soothing. You can alleviate some sinus pressure with a warm compress on the face or gargling warm salt water.
With some caution, planning, and a few extra loads of laundry you can help your child make the most of the spring weather in spite of allergy season.