IllnesschevronSeasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

By Chelsea Roberts (She/Hers)
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What are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal Allergies involve an allergic reaction of the nose and sinuses, often accompanied by itchy, watery eyes. These types of symptoms can occur at different times of the year depending on what is in bloom and the individual unique sensitivities.

Early Seasonal Allergy Symptoms:

Clear Nasal Drainage


Sniffles, Itchy Nose, & Nasal Congestion

Itchy, Red, Watery Eyes

Ear Pressure & Itchy Ear Canal

Sinus Pressure

Itchy or Scratchy Throat, Hoarse Voice


Itchy Skin

Severe Seasonal Allergy symptoms:

  • Little to no symptom relief after 2 full days on allergy medications.
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the eyes, lips or tongue 

It's important to seek medical attention once severe symptoms appear or you notice significant changes in your child's wellness so that a proper evaluation can be conducted. Most cases are not severe but if breathing difficulties present you will want to have your child evaluated by a pediatric medical provider.

How severe are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies are quite common for many children. Symptoms of seasonal allergies often include sneezing, a clear runny nose, post-nasal discharge, itchy and water eyes, a scratchy and sometimes sore throat. Occasionally there can be rashes or itchy skin as well. Symptoms can flare after exposure to the allergen, such as after being outside on a windy day when pollen counts are high. Symptoms are often improved with over-the-counter medications and supportive care at home.  The severity can depend on how reactive your child is to the allergen, and the level of the allergen in the environment that day.  Occasionally children can experience more severe symptoms. The more concerning symptoms to watch for are any difficulty breathing, including wheezing (a whistling sound that typically occurs with exhaling) or any shortness of breath, tight feeling in the chest. These types of symptoms are signs that you should take your child to a pediatric urgent care clinic or seek more immediate medical attention if symptoms are extremely severe. 

  • Children with seasonal allergies are also more at risk for secondary infections such as ear or sinus infections. 
  • Children with seasonal allergies that also have asthma are at risk for more asthma exacerbations during allergy season. 
  • Unlike children that are allergic to certain foods, it is rare that a child will ever experience anaphylaxis from seasonal allergies, or would need to carry an epi-pen for that reason. 
  • Though seasonal allergies rarely lead to any severe reactions, they are typically lifelong and can lead to significant life disruption still, including loss of school time or difficulty concentrating in school, behavioral problems, missing out on social or outdoor activities, and difficulty getting quality sleep. 

In infants and children <2 years

Typically symptoms are mild to moderate and can be managed with over-the-counter medications.

In older, healthy, children and adults

Typically symptoms are mild to moderate and can be managed with over-the-counter medications.

In children and adults that also have asthma

Typically symptoms are moderate and can be managed with over-the-counter medications, but also may require use of Rx allergy medications and Rx medications for asthma management.

What causes Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal Allergies can be caused by many things including but not limited to pollen from grass, trees, weeds, and molds. Allergies can also be caused by animals or animals that bring pollen into the home from being outdoors.

it’s common to see seasonal allergy symptoms increase in some portions of the country caused by the pollen from trees, grasses and plants while they bloom.

Common seasonal allergens:

  • Grass, tree and plant pollens
  • Dust can contain fine particles of pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and mold. 
  • Animals with furry coats: dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.
  • Molds and Fungi

Are Seasonal Allergies contagious?

Not contagious

Seasonal Allergies are not contagious.

How to protect your child from Seasonal Allergies

Total prevention is difficult.

Allergens live in all environments! Keep household windows closed, particularly in your kiddo’s bedroom. Don’t use attic fans or window fans that can draw more pollen inside. Drive with car windows closed. Try to stay indoors on windy days and avoid playing with outdoor pets. Monitor daily pollen count to mitigate symptoms. Shower after playing outside. Keep dirty clothes hamper outside of your child’s room so allergens on clothing don’t bother your child while sleeping. Daily Allergy Medications.

What should I do if I think my child has Seasonal Allergies?

  • If you aren’t sure if your child has allergies or not, it can be helpful to have them evaluated by their primary care provider or a pediatric urgent care. 
  • If you know your child has seasonal allergies, most medications are over-the-counter (OTC), and are safe and effective. Look for the mediation that targets your child’s specific symptoms, since symptoms can vary for each child. And be sure to read the label carefully and check that the age is appropriate for your child. 
  • If your child has already tried certain allergy medications and is not improving, you should seek an appointment with their primary care provider or a pediatric urgent care.

What is the treatment for Seasonal Allergies?

Supportive care at home & antiviral medications or treating symptoms with over-the-counter medications.

Supportive care at home.

  • Daily allergy medications
  • Saline Nasal Washes
  • Wash pollen from skin and hair if your little one comes into contact by playing outdoors or with outdoor animals. 

OTC allergy medications typically fall into one of three categories, including oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops.

  • Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines can be taken as needed, or daily during allergy season. They work quickly, and help greatly with sneezing, runny nose, itchy skin, and can help slightly with nasal congestion and eye symptoms.
  • Diphenhydramine (such as brand name Benadryl): these are the older “first-generation” antihistamines that work great, but can make people very sleepy, and are short-lasting (usually 4-6 hours). They can also run the risk of making some kids hyperactive or irritable. 
  • 2nd generation antihistamines, such as loratadine (brand name Claritin) or cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec) typically are non-drowsy, and last 24 hours so are much more convenient to take. They come in several formulations, including liquid, dissolvable tablets, and tablets you swallow.

Nasal sprays:

  • Nasal steroid sprays, such as nasal fluticasone (brand name Flonase), can be very helpful for the nasal congestion and post-nasal drip that comes along with seasonal allergies. These are dosed once daily, and need to be used regularly in order to be the most effective. They don’t work as well on an “as needed” basis. 
  • Nasal saline sprays or rinses can also be very helpful to rinse allergens from the nasal passages and sinuses and relieve nasal congestion. It is helpful to do this every morning and night during allergy season. If you also use a nasal steroid spray, it’s important to use the steroid after the saline rinse.
  • Nasal decongestants are not routinely recommended for allergy sufferers. These sprays (including oxymetazoline or phenylephrine, brand name Afrin) often can lead to rebound and worsening nasal congestion if used for more than a couple days.

Eye drops

  • In addition to the medications above, allergy eye drops can be added to the regimen for breakthrough eye allergy symptoms. These are safe and effective in children (just read the package to assure your child is old enough, as it can vary), and often provide added relief. Good options include ketotifen (brand names Zaditor or Alaway) or olopatadine (brands Pataday, Patanol, or Clear Eyes).
Not sure if these symptoms fit your kiddo’s symptoms?Our Panic-Free Symptom Checker can walk you through tons of common kiddo symptoms, and let you know if it’s time to see a doctor. Try Symptom Checker

When should I seek medical care for my child from a Pediatric Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

You should either call 911 or take your child to an Emergency Room right away in the following situations:

  • If your child develops swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat.
  • If you child appears to be having difficulty breathing.

Go to Urgent Care in the following situations:

Go to Urgent Care in the following situations: If you have any questions or concerns about allergies you should bring those to your kiddo's primary care provider. If something arises sooner or your child is not improving with the suggested treatments you should bring your child into a Pediatric Urgent Care like Brave Care.

What is the typical duration of Seasonal Allergies?

Allergic rhinitis occurs seasonally and typically lasts during the pollen season between 6-8 weeks for each pollen. Some children have allergies to several different pollens so their symptoms may last longer. Allergy medications should improve symptoms within 2-5 days, depending on the medication. 

Anything else?

DisclaimerThis illness guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
911If you think your child may have a life threatening emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Headshot of Chelsea Roberts, PA-C, MPAS, Physician Assistant, She/Her
Chelsea Roberts (She/Hers)

Dr. Chelsea Roberts was born and raised in the Portland area, and enjoys being able to practice medicine in the community she was raised. After attending Linfield College, she went on to Oregon Health & Sciences University where she received her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies. She then received her Doctor of Medical Science degree at the University of Lynchburg. She is NCCPA certified and has over 13 years of experience as a pediatric medical provider. When not at work, she enjoys traveling, kayaking, camping, and exploring the outdoors with her husband, 2 daughters, and their rambunctious Australian Labradoodle.

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