This is an allergic reaction caused by the body releasing histamine into the bloodstream when triggered by certain pollen or mould spores. As with other allergies, it tends to run in families. So, if close relatives have hayfever, your child is more likely to suffer with it. It is also closely linked to asthma.
The symptoms of a cold or virus can mimic hayfever, so it’s important to rule these out first. Hayfever irritates the lining of the nose and the membranes around the eyes causing:
- A runny nose and excessive sneezing
- Itchy, red eyes
- In severe cases, wheezing
The complaint is usually seasonal, linked to whichever pollen or fungus spore that triggers your child’s allergy is in season. The hayfever season stretches from April right through to September but the peak period is May to July.
For more information about hayfever and other allergies, contact the British Allergy Foundation.
What to do
- For older babies (generally over one year old) and children, your GP can prescribe an antihistamine syrup and/or eyedrops to reduce any inflammation and irritation in the eyes/nose
- Limit your child’s exposure to known hayfever triggers such as grass and tree pollens, for example, by keeping windows closed and washing her hair after being outside
- Keep car windows closed on summer trips and if it has one, check your car’s pollen filter regularly
- Avoid taking your child outside at the start and end of the day when the pollen count is at its highest, and watch local pollen reports on the TV
- Buy your child some wrap-around sunglasses and encourage her to wear them
- Take your holidays on the coast where the pollen count is usually lower