Updated: Jun 1
Many children, teenagers and adults experience Allergic Rhinitis (commonly known as hayfever) in Australia.
What is hay fever?
Hayfever is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as pollens (grasses, weeds, trees), house dust mites, moulds and animal fur or hair (dander). Hay fever occurs when pollens or dust mites in the air, get into your child’s nose, eyes and throat and then cause inflammation. Seasonal hay fever occurs mainly in spring and summer and affects people allergic to pollens. Perennial hay fever occurs all year round and can be due to house dust mites and/or animal dander etc.
Hay fever symptoms
Immediate symptoms for children include:
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy nose, eyes, the roof of the mouth, throat
- Frequent sneezing
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
Longer lasting symptoms/signs:
- Nasal congestion
- Mouth breathing or Snoring
Untreated hay fever
If untreated, children (and adults) can have a number of complications due to allergic rhinitis, some of which may go unnoticed. These include:
- Sleep disturbance (poor quality sleep)
- Daytime tiredness
- Poor attention, concentration leading to learning issues
- Behavioural issues
- Recurrent ear infections in kids
- Asthma which is more difficult to control
Hay fever treatment
Medications will not cure allergies but may help relieve the symptoms. Helpful hay fever medication includes:
- Antihistamines - tablets, syrups, intranasal sprays and eye drops- non-drowsy recommended
- Nasal Sprays
- Saltwater sprays/douches
- Intranasal steroid sprays - use regularly to decrease inflammation (like asthma preventer medications)
- Combination nasal sprays - intranasal steroids and antihistamine- may be prescribed for older children
- Decongestant sprays - unblock and dry up nose but ONLY use for a few days
- Decongestant tablets - use with caution
If you are worried about your child’s hayfever symptoms or if they are interfering with your child’s daily life, then it may be helpful to see a Doctor to look at possible causes, prevention and treatment options.
How to prevent hay fever
Hayfever does tend to run in families and often occurs in children/families who have other allergic conditions eg: asthma, or eczema (atopic families). There are several things you can do to prevent or limit your child's exposure to environmental allergens including:
- Avoid or limit your child being outside on high pollen days - spring and early summer is pollen season
- If your child is allergic to house dust mites, there are many preventive measures you can put in place (see fact sheet in resource section)
- Allergen immunotherapy (desensitisation) - this is only for those with SEVERE allergic rhinitis as treatment is for 3-5 years
Have fever allergy testing
- If your child has allergic rhinitis and it affects their daily function, it may be helpful to know what is triggering their allergic reaction so you can focus on prevention and appropriate treatments
- Allergy testing for environmental allergens such as pollens and house dust mites can be performed by 2 methods- blood tests or skin prick tests- speak to your Dr
Dr Lexi Frydenberg is an experienced general paediatrician specialising in the care of children (and their families) from birth-eighteen who experience a wide range of acute and chronic medical conditions (or clinical conditions). She is also a passionate educator and mother of 3.
Watch Dr Lexi's Expert Videos and read more of her expert articles as part of our Parents You've Got This Parenting Portal - Your expert guide to parenthood. A libary of staged based Expert videos, articles and guides for the early years of parenthood.
To learn more, explore our range of informative masterclasses held by leading health and medical experts.
https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/Podcast/- All about allergies