Tree pollen allergies are rough on children, doctor says

WASHINGTON — This is prime time for tree pollen allergies. But while it can be rough for adults, it’s even worse for children.

“They are so susceptible to pollen allergies,” says Dr. Rachel Schreiber, an allergist in Rockville, Maryland, who says a lot of kids end up looking really swollen, with watery, itchy eyes. “The kids really do get miserable, because kids spend a lot of time outside, and it can be really tough for them.”

But after a long, nasty winter, no one wants to keep their children cooped up inside. Schreiber says doctors have medications that can help, and parents can take steps at home to ease the suffering.

They include closing windows, running air conditioning and insisting children take regular showers to wash the pollen off their bodies. Schreiber says children with moderate to severe pollen allergies should be checked out regularly by a medical professional because they run an increased risk of asthma.

“We want to make sure the allergy is not affecting the lower airways and causing wheezing, coughing and asthma symptoms,” she explains.

But there is a bit of good news for new parents: Babies are born without pollen allergies. An allergic reaction is something that builds over time, and a child needs to be exposed to several seasons of spring pollen before the first signs of trouble occur.

Schreiber says the youngest kids she sees with tree pollen allergies are toddlers nearing their third birthday — children who have “seen” a couple of pollen seasons already.

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