What Can I Give My Child for Allergies?

Reviewed on 7/9/2021
allergy medicines for kids
Learn how to manage your child’s symptoms with allergy medicines for kids

While the best way to help your little one avoid an allergic reaction is make sure they aren’t exposed to allergens, that’s not always possible. It’s important to be ready to treat symptoms right away if your child accidentally comes in contact with the allergen.

Before choosing an over-the-counter (OTC) medication for your child, make sure to consult your pediatrician to confirm whether your little one has an allergy or infection. Your pediatrician can also provide guidance regarding which medication you can use for your child and in what dosages 

If you suspect that your child has an allergy, an allergist can do tests to find out exactly what is causing the allergy and discuss with you how to manage it.

What types of allergy medications are available for children?

Allergy medications found in the drugstore can be narrowed down into three categories.

  • Antihistamines
    • Block histamines (chemicals released by the immune system during an allergic reaction).
    • Work quickly, and can be used on and off throughout the allergy season.
    • Best for mild or intermittent symptoms.
    • May cause drowsiness in children.
  • Decongestants
    • Offers fast relief from nasal and sinus congestion.
    • Won’t relieve symptoms completely if your child is also suffering from other symptoms, such as itchy or watery eyes.
    • Side effects may include disturbed sleep, increased heart rate, restlessness, tremors, and irritability.
  • Steroid nasal sprays
    • Suppress inflammation.
    • Work right at the source, in the nose,  without having to travel through the body like antihistamine tablets and syrups do .
    • Provide relief from itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and stuffy nose.
    • Povides 24-hour non-drowsy relief for children ages 2 and older.

How are severe allergic reactions treated?

If your child has severe allergic reactions, they will need epinephrine. This medication reverses symptoms, such as throat swelling and wheezing, and helps improve blood circulation

Epinephrine is available by prescription in a self-injectable form. Older children should be taught how to use an EpiPen in case of an emergency. Talk with your pediatrician to know whether your child needs this medicine and how and when it should be used.

If your child experiences a severe allergic reaction, you should also call 911 to get immediate medical help.

How can I prevent allergic reactions in my child?

Allergies are the most common health issue among American children, and asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among kids under 15. 

You can help prevent allergic reactions you child by keeping in mind the following:

Triggers

  • Identify triggers (foods, animal dander, plants, flowers, cigarette smoke, etc.) and eliminate or avoid them, if possible.
  • Avoid exposure to pollen and outdoor mold by staying inside with the windows closed during problematic seasons and be aware that pollen counts are generally higher in the afternoon.

Humidification

  • Run a humidifier or vaporizer in your child’s bedroom and play area.
  • Ensure that the humidifier is thoroughly cleaned and determine whether the use of the humidifier increases or helps your child’s symptoms.

Hydration

  • Encourage your child to drink more clear fluids, which will help thin out the mucus.
  • The following guidelines are a good rule of thumb for water intake:
    • Children between ages 2-5: 12-18 ounces per day.
    • Children between ages 5-12: 18-24 ounces per day.
    • Children between ages 13-18: 32-48 ounces per day.

Nasal saline rinse

  • Use saline nose drops made with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of water, or use commercially available saline drops.
  • Put 2 drops in each nostril and leave for several minutes before getting your child to blow their nose. Repeat, as needed, 3-4 times a day.
  • Mucus in younger children can be suctioned away with a bulb syringe, but don’t suction too frequently or it could cause the congestion to worsen.

Diet

  • Eliminate milk and dairy products from your child’s diet if they are significantly congested.
  • Citrus can also cause increased mucus production, so be careful about your child’s intake.

Environment

  • Keep the house, and particularly your child’s bedroom, as clean as possible. Give careful attention to bedding and stuffed animals.
  • If carpets can’t be replaced by vinyl, tile, or wood flooring, vacuum carpets 1-2 times a week and use a high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter (HEPA) filter or a double bag in the vacuum.

Pollen

  • If your child’s allergies are triggered by outdoor pollen, use air conditioning instead of evaporative cooling.
  • The use of air filtration systems or HEPA room air purifiers can be helpful, as well as regular duct cleaning.
  • To remove pollen from hair and skin, have your child shower after coming in from outdoor play on high pollen days.

SLIDESHOW

Could I Be Allergic? Discover Your Allergy Triggers See Slideshow

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References
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Children & Allergies. https://acaai.org/allergies/who-has-allergies/children-allergies

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. Allergy Relief for Your Child. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/allergy-relief-your-child

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