Seasonal allergies in the toddler years

Unlike allergies to food or medication, which often show symptoms at the first exposure, seasonal allergies tend to take a bit longer to show themselves, and when they do, the symptoms can be easy to dismiss as something else. Signs of seasonal allergies may not start to show up until a toddler’s second or third year, because it can take a full season for a child’s body to “learn” to be allergic to a substance.

The bodies of people who are allergic to pollen, mold spores, and other outdoor irritants treat these allergens as invaders. This causes the immune system to react to defend against the allergens. This response is responsible for traditional allergy symptoms, and can make for an unpleasant season once the allergen is in the air.

Here’s what to look for if you suspect an allergy, and what you can do to help ease the discomfort.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies

Allergy symptoms can look like symptoms of a cold or virus, but there are a few key ways that they’re different.

  • sneezing
  • itchy nose and/or throat
  • nasal congestion
  • clear, runny nose
  • coughing

Another allergy symptom a toddler may experience is watery, itchy eyes. their eyes may become very red, which might look like an eye infection, when instead it’s a sign of allergic conjunctivitis. Asthma symptoms, like wheezing and shortness of breath, are also common allergy symptoms.  

Symptoms that are not allergy symptoms include fever and a runny nose producing green or yellow mucus. If your child has these symptoms, it is more likely that they're suffering from a virus than allergies.

Spotting the difference

Luckily, seasonal allergies are pretty simple to identify, as they tend to come on quickly and follow a pattern. If your little one starts showing symptoms only when outside, or during a certain time of a year, you can bet seasonal allergies are most likely to blame. This is especially true if symptoms seem to resolve once they are removed from the environment in which the allergen is present.

Treating allergies

If you suspect that your little one has seasonal allergies, start with a visit to their pediatrician. Depending on how serious their symptoms are, their doctor may talk to you about how to treat your child’s allergies, or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. There are many treatments for allergy symptoms, but be sure to consult with a medical professional before attempting to treat your child’s allergies, to make sure the treatment is both effective and safe.

  • “Seasonal allergies.” American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, December 28 2017. Retrieved January 9 2017.
  • “Seasonal allergies in children.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved January 9 2017.

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