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Treating Allergies

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Achoo!  Yes, it has been a particularly bad allergy season and (I’m afraid to say) it seems like it’s going to be like this for a bit longer. I continue to see a lot of children (as well as their parents) complaining of nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes.  It’s very uncomfortable!

The surge in allergies this year has been due to a very wet winter and the weather this spring has brought erratic temperatures and lots of wind.  This is the perfect storm for the “allergic cascade” to inflict itself on everyone’s nasal mucosa.

The best preventative for nasal allergy symptoms (allergic rhinitis) has been the use of intranasal steroids. These steroid sprays have been used for the past 15 years and clinical studies have shown that intranasal steroids are superior to oral antihistamines for preventing and treating allergic rhinitis.

Intranasal steroids function by inhibiting the production of chemical mediators such as histamine and prostaglandin that cause inflammation and mucous production. In other words they are more of a preventative medication, while an antihistamine is treating the histamine that was released once you inhaled the offending tree or grass pollen. Intranasal steroids may also help eye allergy symptoms.

The biggest problem seems to be getting young kids to let you use a nose spray on them. The same holds true for the older tween and teen crowd who complain that they “just don’t have the time to use it every day” (it must take all of 15 seconds to use on yourself!)

Intranasal steroids have been shown to be effective within 3-12 hours, although will reach their maximum effectiveness after several days to weeks of use, so using it daily and throughout the allergy season is going to give you the maximum therapeutic effect.

There are many different brands available (all by prescription) and everyone seems to have their favorite. If one spray seems to bother your child due to scent, or intensity of the spray ask your doctor to try another brand. Many times they will have a sample and give you several to try and then prescribe the one that is easiest to get your child to use. It may be trial and error, but finding the right nasal steroid may just change your allergy season.

By the way, God Bless You!

Keeping allergens away from your family will help everyone feel better.  We’ll talk about this in part 3.

Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Related Posts on www.kidsdr.com

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