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Payal Patel

As we approach springtime in Florida, most people may have already noticed symptoms related to seasonal allergies. In this article, I would like to explain what seasonal allergies are along with information on managing them.

Allergies in general are your body’s reaction to foreign things in the environment. This is the body’s way of getting rid of the allergen by making the person have allergic symptoms. Approximately 20 percent of the general population is considered allergy prone. The most common types of seasonal allergens include pollens, weeds and outdoor molds. Allergies can usually appear as young as 2 yrs of age. But the most common age of allergy presentation is from age 4-6 yrs. If a child has one parent with allergies, there is a 30 percent chance of having allergies in general, compared to an increased risk of 70 percent if both parents have allergies. Children with eczema or asthma also have an increased risk of having allergies.

The usual symptoms include runny nose that is clear in color, sneezing, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, itchy eyes, nose and throat. Associated symptoms can be headaches because of constant congestion, and coughing and clearing of the throat due to post-nasal drip. There is no associated fever with allergies.

The usual determination of allergies are based on time of year, as well as reports of repeated incidence such as only in spring or only in fall. Also, important is the duration of these symptoms. If they occur only for 10-14 days it may be a cold-a viral infection, but if it has been greater than two weeks, then allergies can be strongly suspected. Allergy testing is helpful to identify moderate to severe allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollens and molds but are not usually indicated for mild seasonal allergies.

Treatment for allergies includes elimination or avoidance of the allergen by remaining indoors during high-pollen count. Seasonal allergens usually peak late morning to afternoon, windy days when pollen is flying around, and when the lawn is being mowed. During these times, it is helpful to stay inside along with the closing of windows in homes and cars to lessen the exposure to the allergens.

Medications such as antihistamines namely Benadryl, Dimetapp for allergies, and Claritin are available over the counter. Prescription medicines include Zyrtec, Clarinex, Allegra and Singulair. Nasal sprays such as Nasonex, Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort, Astelin are underused in the pediatric population but are helpful to lessen local symptoms of congestion, runny, itchy nose, as well as reducing the post-nasal drip. For itchy watery eyes, allergy eye drops can relieve symptoms.

It is recommended to try over the counter management of allergies for 1-2 weeks, but if allergies still persist or are getting worse, your pediatrician will be able to help with prescription medication along with general guidance. Prolonged uncontrolled allergies can lead to sinusitis due to the inflammation in nasal passages and increased nasal secretions and also can block the auditory tubes leading to ear infections. It also is important to control allergies for asthma-prone children since allergies can trigger an acute asthma attack.

Dr. Payal Patel, a board-certified pediatrician with practice location (Lutz Pediatrics 18928 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz, FL 33548) can be reached at the office at (813) 909-2199 or by e-mail at

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