Information in this article provided by and Royal Children’s Hospital 

The information in this article is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. 

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to different conditions.  When seasons change some allergy symptoms increase, causing effects such as rhinitis, also known as hayfever. Symptoms occur primarily because of pollens shed by plants during spring, summer and autumn.

Hayfever is very common and affects up to 30% of children. It occurs because mucous and small hairs in the nose trap dust and pollen when the person breathing in the particles is allergic. Children with hayfever commonly also have other allergic conditions like asthma, eczema or food allergy.

Common symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing, runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy ears, nose or throat
  • Coughing, wheezing or increased asthma symptoms
  • Skin irritations and increased eczema symptoms

Triggers include:

  • Pollen from grasses, flowers and trees
  • Dust mites
  • Animal fur or hair
  • Mould spores

How to treat children’s hayfever

There is no cure for hayfever, although some children may outgrow their allergies as they become older. If hayfever is left untreated it can lead to poor sleep quality, tiredness and daytime sleepiness. The best way to reduce the frequency of your child’s hayfever is to identify the triggers and avoid or minimise contact. However, this is not always possible as pollen is in the air in large parts of the environment. Checking the pollen count in your region is one way of making yourself aware of the increased risk factors.

Your doctor may suggest using medication to help relieve your child’s symptoms, such as:

  • non-drowsy antihistamines (can safely be used twice a day)
  • steroid nasal sprays (for example Nasonex which is available over the counter or Avamys which requires a prescription)

For severe symptoms where other medications are not helping, immunotherapy may be a treatment option. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that involves exposing your child to small amounts of the allergen (the substance they are allergic to) to help them build tolerance. This is sometimes given in oral form and sometimes by small injections regularly under the skin.  This is a subspecialty area requiring referral to a paediatric allergist.