If you are is sneezing and congested, with an itchy throat and eyes, it might be allergies —from pet dander to changes in the environment.
While allergy season is usually is associated with tree, grass and weed pollen in the air, which are one of the the biggest offenders depending on the time of year, allergies can occur year round.
The No. 1 suggestion for reducing allergy symptoms is to avoid what's causing them, whether it's the family dog or a particular food. But that's a tough order when you're allergic to an invisible pollen floating in the air.
That's one reason to seek relief in medications. They may not be a cure, but they can help your child feel better.
Among the medicines your doctor might suggest:
Antihistamines. Histamines are chemicals your body makes during an allergy attack. Antihistamines quiet the effect of these chemicals, easing symptoms. Antihistamines can come in liquid, tablet or nasal spray forms. However, they can cause nightmares and restlessness in children.
Decongestants. These drugs narrow blood vessels, lessening runny-nose symptoms. They, too, can be taken as a liquid, tablet or nasal spray. Decongestants shouldn't be used for more than a few days in a row. Overuse can lead to your stuffy nose getting worse.
Nasal steroids. Also called corticosteroids, these inhaled sprays reduce inflammation in the nose. Nasal steroids are the first line of treatment for hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. They should be started a week or two in advance of allergy season.
Your doctor may start you on nasal steroids alone. If your allergies are severe, another drug may be added to help control symptoms. Be sure to review side effects with your doctor before starting on any medication.