Q: My kids have seasonal allergies. Is it safe for them to take kids’ Flonase and Zyrtec every day for months? Is there anything else I can do?
A: Spring always brings happy memories for me. But if your child suffers from allergies, you probably think of a constant runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. Let’s review some of the treatments available for allergies, and when it may be time to see a specialist.
Allergy symptoms may include sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, congestion, throat clearing, and nose rubbing. Allergies can be hard to distinguish from a common cold. The main differences are that allergies never cause a fever and colds almost never cause itching (unless you are having viral-induced hives). Allergies also recur at the same time every year. Some people tend to get them in winter and summer, whereas others can suffer more in the fall and spring.
Over-the-counter medications are the first place to start. There are lots of options for kids. These include oral antihistamines (Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra), inhaled nasal steroids (Flonase and Nasacort) and eye drops (Pataday, Zaditor). It’s OK to take these for two to three months at a time during allergy season. Lowering the pollen load by washing hands and showering or washing the face after coming indoors can also help.
If your child is needing medications for longer than two to three months, or if allergy symptoms are not well controlled with over-the-counter medications, then your child may need to see an allergist to discuss testing and whether they are a good candidate for desensitization therapy (allergy shots or under-the-tongue drops). Talk with your pediatrician to help determine the next best step for your child.
If you’re looking for more expert advice from Dr. Baynham, check out her column here!