Seasonal allergies can be a real pain, especially for children. The constant sneezing, coughing, and itching can make it difficult for kids to enjoy the great outdoors. While traditional medicine offers a variety of options to alleviate these symptoms, functional medicine offers natural and holistic ways to help children manage their allergies. And if medication or conventional approaches aren’t working, a science-based functional medicine approach may offer a solution.
In this blog, we will explore some functional medicine tips for how to help a child manage seasonal allergies naturally.
Do you want to learn more about how functional medicine can help with your child’s seasonal allergies? Contact Newbridge Health and Wellness today and learn how we can help.
Common Signs and Symptoms for Seasonal Allergies in Children
Allergy symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways. Stephanie Belseth APRN, CPNP, of Newbridge Health and Wellness states, “Moodiness and behavioral issues are often what parents notice first when allergies are an issue. When a child is dealing with allergies, they may be irritable, act out, or begin performing poorly in school, in some cases with or without obvious classic physical allergy symptoms. They also run a higher risk of ear and sinus infections due to continued or chronic inflammation. These can additionally be triggers for asthma and other respiratory conditions.”
Aside from physical behavioral symptoms that may affect focus and concentration, other symptoms that are often associated with seasonal allergies in children may include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- General itchiness
- Poor sleep
- Difficulty breathing
It’s also good to note that the difference between seasonal allergies and respiratory illnesses, such as the flu or cold, may be difficult for a parent to detect. One great indicator of seasonal allergies is that the issues/symptoms may exist primarily during a particular season, most commonly spring or fall. Exposure to mold, dust mites and other common allergies can sometimes be a cause of more long-standing or persistent symptoms. Because there are so many possibilities underlying the causes of these symptoms, it is recommended that you take your child to visit a pediatric functional medicine provider to ensure a proper diagnosis and personalized root-cause treatment.
What Are the Main Triggers of Seasonal Allergies and How Can They Be Prevented?
Some of the most common causes of allergies in children are grasses, ragweed, mold, tree pollen, and sometimes dust mites and other insects. Reducing exposure to allergens is one effective way to reduce your child’s seasonal allergy symptoms. This can include keeping windows and doors closed during times of high pollen counts, using high quality air filters, cleaning HVAC vents, washing bedding regularly in hot water, hepa vacuum cleaner use, and regularly cleaning surfaces to reduce dust and mold.
Additionally, it’s important to ensure that children are not exposed to allergens in their diet. For example, an obvious example is if a child is allergic to peanuts , it’s critical that peanuts are not present in any of their meals or snacks, or in some cases that their classmates also not include these in their lunch or snack options.
Belseth also notes that “Seasonal airborne allergies can sometimes aggravate or bring out food allergies in the form of oral allergy syndrome, for example, and can cause some food allergies or intolerances during certain times of the year due to other exposures. There can also be issues with cross-reactive foods due to a phenomenon called molecular mimicry. ” she says.
According to Belseth, “To start, in order to help minimize your child’s exposure to allergens, you can check daily reports on pollen and air quality in your area online, and ensure that your child washes his or her hands and face after they’ve been outside during allergy season. And there are certain times in the day when pollen counts are higher than others. So, parents should avoid having their children play outside during these times if they have certain allergies.”
Additionally, Belseth also recommends using a dryer rather than air drying clothes during allergy season, having your children take a bath or shower before bed, and using an air filtration system in the home or in their bedroom. For example, “Austin Air Bedroom Filters have been in use for a while, are simple to use, and have also been studied by Johns Hopkins, and are great for children with seasonal allergies as well as autism and other chronic disorders,” she says.
Keep in mind, for a deeper look at the underlying root causes of allergies, we also need to examine environmental medicine topics such as overall nutritional status and diet, the health of the microbiome, exposure to toxins, lifestyle habits, living environment, and stress.
10 Tips for Seasonal Allergy Management
1. Avoid Triggers
Identify the specific allergens that trigger your child’s symptoms and take steps to minimize exposure. Common triggers include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. If your child has food intolerances or allergies, eliminating their specific reactive foods in the diet can help reduce the overall inflammatory burden and help make seasonal allergy symptoms more manageable, as well.
2. Support Gut Health
Optimal gut health is essential for a strong immune system. Encourage your child to eat a diet rich in fiber and probiotics, and consider giving them a probiotic supplement.
3. Increase Omega-3 Intake
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce allergy symptoms. Include sources of omega-3 in your child’s diet, such as fatty fish, nuts, flax seeds and high quality omega supplements. Vitamin D3 strengthens immunity and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Nutrient dense foods and “eating the colors of the rainbow” daily in the firm of vegetables and fruits provides excellent phytonutrients which assist in overall health and immune function.
4. Use a Neti Pot
Nasal irrigation with a neti pot can help relieve congestion and sinus pressure caused by allergies. Ensure that you use a saline solution and follow the proper technique to avoid contamination or infection.
5. Support Liver Function
The liver plays a vital role in the detoxification and elimination of allergens. Incorporate liver-supportive foods, such as leafy greens, beets, choleogogue herbs, and turmeric, into your child’s diet. Harsh cleaning products can irritate the lungs and exacerbate allergy symptoms. Use non-toxic cleaning products in your home and check out the Environmental Working Group’s apps (e.g. think dirty) and articles to help reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, metals, plastics, herbicides/ pesticides/ fungicides/ fertilizers and solvents. The more toxins that a body is exposed to, the more immune dysfunction that may be seen, which in some cases can express as allergies, known as TILT, or Toxicant-Induced-Loss-of-Tolerance.
6. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration helps thin mucus and reduce congestion and helps our bodies to function ideally. Encourage your child to drink plenty of filtered water and avoid sugary drinks.
7. Use Natural Remedies
Natural remedies such as quercetin, bromelain, vitamin C, luteolin, and stinging nettle, to name just a few, can help reduce allergy symptoms. Consult with a pediatric functional medicine practitioner for personalized recommendations before giving any supplements to children.
8. Encourage Outdoor Activities at the Right Time
Pollen counts are typically highest in the morning and on windy days. Plan outdoor activities for later in the day or on calm days to minimize exposure.
9. Consider Sublingual Low-Dose Allergen Therapy (LDA)
LDA is a type of immunotherapy which stimulates the production of T Regulator (T Reg) cells. These cells actively “switch off” helper cells that are erroneously causing patients to be ill by misidentifying normal substances in the body to be allergens. LDA is used to treat many types of allergies, sensitivities and intolerance to inhalants (pollens, dust, mites, dander, etc.), foods and chemicals. It is used to treat such conditions as seasonal and perennial hay fever, asthma, and food allergies and intolerances. A Newbridge practitioner can assess your child and prescribe this, if it is determined to be a good fit for your child or other family members.
10. Manage Stress
Stress can weaken the immune system, prevent your child from getting into a parasympathetic nervous system state, and can make allergy symptoms worse. Encourage your child to have some quiet time each day, and practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, prayer, or meditation.
Seasonal Allergies and Gut Health
Proper nutrition and gut health are both essential to overall health, including immune system function. In fact, nutrition affects mental health as well. As such, the gut is home to trillions of bacteria, and an imbalance in the gut microbiome can lead to a variety of health issues, including allergies.
One way to support gut health is to encourage the consumption of probiotic-rich, foods such as yogurt, kefir, lacto-fermented sauerkraut or other vegetables, and kombucha. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which can strengthen the immune system and reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.
Stephanie Belseth explains, “As functional medicine providers, we always look at root causes – especially at the health of the microbiome and foods being consumed, and from there we work on restoring balance in the microbiome such as supporting the body with vitamin D, gentle gut supportive herbs or botanicals, and prebiotics and probiotics in some cases. We also evaluate family history and genetics, food allergies and intolerances, other nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins that may be contributing to allergies, as well as lifestyle habits, and stress.”
Using Supplements and Natural Remedies
There are several natural remedies that can help alleviate allergy symptoms in children. These include foods, such as honey, that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce allergy symptoms. Local honey is also best, as it contains small amounts of local pollen, which can help build immunity to allergens common in your local area.
When it comes to supplements, Belseth explains, “Ideally you need to make sure that you use independently third party tested, highest-quality supplements to ensure safety and maximal benefit. And just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s always good for kids. Always check with a pediatric functional medicine provider steeped in nutrition and experience with targeted herbs, botanicals and nutrients, because kids need different doses, and there are different considerations than adults. There can also be drug-to-supplement interactions that need to be evaluated as well. This is why speaking to a qualified pediatric functional medicine provider is the best way to safely give supplements to children when they needed.”
Treating Seasonal Allergies With Newbridge Health and Wellness
At Newbridge Health and Wellness, we specialize in a holistic, science-based approach to care. And we understand that when kids suffer from seasonal allergies, they can’t deal with it as easily as adults.
Let’s face it. When children’s allergies flair up it’s going to affect them in a myriad of ways. We know that when kids don’t feel good, they’re not going to sleep well, they are tired and miserable, they may develop social and behavioral issues, school can be more difficult, and it’s going to be harder to get along with them.
Belseth also notes that “Untreated allergies are not only going to have an impact on school and behavior, they can also have far-reaching effects because chronic inflammation associated with allergies of all sorts not only impacts kids physically, but it can sometimes contribute to them not being able to learn, behave and interact properly which could potentially impact their entire life.”
If you’re curious about how functional medicine can help with seasonal allergies, Stephanie Belseth reminds parents that they should look for a functional medicine provider who specializes in pediatrics. If the clinic has classes or Q&A sessions available, it’s worthwhile to take these classes to educate yourself, ask questions and stay informed. At Newbridge, we offer many classes and Q&A sessions (online and in person) to best support patients.
At Newbridge, we want your children to feel their best, so they can be their best. And with our science-based approach, we can ensure your child receives the best root-cause allergy treatment available.
Are you ready to see how functional medicine can help alleviate your child’s seasonal allergies? Reach out to Newbridge Health and Wellness today and get matched with a functional medicine practitioner.