Hay fever is a result of contact with pollen that causes irritation of the lining of the nose, leading to frequent sneezing and nose congestion.
One may expect hay fever to be a type of fever, but that is not the case. It refers to an allergy to pollen (fine powder released by plants during fertilization), which means when exposure to pollen that cannot be tolerated by the body. So when a child is diagnosed with hay fever due to exposure to pollen, he is likely to sneeze frequently and experience a runny or stuffy nose for months. The eyes may also become red, watery, and may itch terribly. Although hay fever occurs in adults too, it is more common in children. Even in developed countries like the United States, UK, and Australia, the incidence of hay fever is higher in children as compared to adults. Statistics indicate that 15 out of 100 children suffer from hay fever, worldwide.
Patients with hay fever usually show an allergy towards grass pollen, but can also be allergic to tree pollen. Exposure to pollen from ragweed and trees like birch and hazel can also aggravate symptoms. Symptoms are seasonal and occur for a specific duration. Those with grass pollen allergy will experience symptoms from May to July, whereas children allergic to tree pollen are likely to complain about the symptoms during early to late spring. Weed pollen can cause hay fever symptoms in the period ranging from early spring to early autumn. However, in most cases children suffering from this allergy are intolerant to grass pollen.
As symptoms of this allergy are similar to that common cold or flu, quite a few parents tend to ignore and expect the respiratory discomfort to go away within a week or two. However, this does not happen and the symptoms stay for at least 3 – 4 months, indicating some kind of allergy.
Why is that some children are frequently affected with hay fever, while others never catch it. Well, if hay fever is prevalent in families, then there is a high probability that the child may also subsequently develop this allergy. Although hay fever is not hereditary, studies show that children born in families who have a history of hay fever are vulnerable to this allergic disease. Also, children diagnosed with respiratory problems like asthma may develop hay fever. Eczema, passive smoking, and air pollution, are other factors that increase the risk of hay fever in children.
OTC treatment involves the use of antihistamines like benadryl and loratadine, that are to be given once or twice during the day. In case that doesn’t work, steroid nasal sprays may be prescribed. However, if these treatment methods fail to provide the desired effect, one can opt for natural remedies. Some of natural hay fever remedies that provide good results and are free from any sort of bothersome side effects, are given below.
Going for organic products instead of chemical based ones is always a better option to control hay fever symptom safely. Unlike OTC medications, organic products like HayMax are free from synthetic chemicals and only contain natural ingredients. They come in the form of balms and are formulated to prevent the allergens (pollen) from sneaking into the body. Also known as pollen barriers, these organic products are found to be extremely beneficial in managing hay fe. HayMax is a blend of seed oil and organic beeswax. Simply dab it at the base of the nose to experience relief from hay fever. These organic based products minimize exposure to pollen, thereby reducing the severity of hay fever.
Few studies have proven that taking stinging nettle in capsule form can benefit to decrease the bouts of sneezing. As we all know, histamine (chemicals) are released into the body when exposed to allergens. Histamine is the main culprit behind the onset of hay fever symptoms. Natural antihistamines are present in stingle nettle, which helps to reduce the production of histamine. This is turn contributes in relieving hay fever. However, stingle nettle lacks extensive studies, and so one has to first talk to a doctor before using it for this allergic disease.
Green tea has excellent antioxidant profile that can help to strengthen the immune system, which is essential to combat hay fever effectively. More importantly, it has catechins, which are antioxidants that show antihistamine properties. Therefore, drinking green tea blocks the production of histamine substantially, thus contributing to alleviate hay fever.
Extract of the pine bark, pycnogenol, is yet another powerful treatment for this respiratory condition. Studies suggest that pycnogeol supplements as a promising remedy to improve hay fever such as congested nose and itchy eyes. Pyconogenol curbs histamine action considerably by almost 70%. However, it is advised that children below 12 years of age should not be given these supplements for hay fever relief.
In order to prevent or reduce the occurrence of hay fever symptoms, one needs to minimize exposure to pollen. This is one of the best ways to ‘outsmart’ this allergic disease. It is discussed below further.
The pollen count soars dramatically in the mornings, especially the period from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Pollen levels are found to be extremely high during these times. In the early evening too, pollen count rises drastically. So children allergic to pollen should not venture outside the house during this time. Also, children should not be allowed to play in areas where there is too much grass. It is advised to shut the windows of the house and the car in seasonal times. Installation of HEPA filters is also helpful to keep the house free from pollen. Children are also asked to wear wrap-around sunglasses when not inside the house, as they provide anti-pollen protection, which means no itchiness and redness of the eyes. When it comes to children’s bedrooms, make sure to use anti-allergy covers to encase mattresses. Pollen and dust mites easily settle on the carpets, hence, removing wall carpets can be a good option. To prevent accumulation of pollen, frequently make use of the vacuum cleaner that is equipped with an air filter.
Now, whether to take these medicines just before or during the pollen season will require consultation with a doctor. Taking these natural remedies as per a doctor’s instructions is the safest way to manage the hay fever symptoms in children.