Summertime for children means that their freedom has been restored: freedom from school, and most importantly, the freedom to go outside and have as much fun as they can. Unfortunately, this season also means that summer allergies will also make their return, and can potentially turn your child's summer vacation into a miserable experience. As a parent, there are a lot of things that you can do to make this time easier on your child, and we will go over what you need to know so that you can understand what causes them, the symptoms, how they are treated, as well as some tips that can help your child avoid the usual triggers.

Causes

Nature itself is the largest source of triggers for summer allergies, literally everywhere you look. The number one allergy prevalent during the spring and summer months are pollen allergies, caused by several types of pollen given off by trees, weeds and grasses. These plants shed pollen in different cycles, so that there is literally a trigger somewhere around outside no matter what time of the year it is. If this was not bad enough, there are two other common allergy triggers that can be found outside: air pollution and insects. Smoke, ozone, even the fumes rising out of the grill can trigger an attack. Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets account for nearly a third of every seasonal allergy attack during the summer, and for some children, a single sting can be life-threatening.

Indoors is not exactly trigger-free, either. Mold loves to live in damp areas, like around bathrooms and basements. Pet dander can be controlled by washing your pets more often, and it is often mistaken for the true culprit behind most allergy symptoms found in children who spend any significant time indoors: dust mites. They can get into the air, in the carpet, in the bedding, and even into the toy box and closet. Summer is especially bad for the little, invisible creeps, because they thrive in warm and humid temperatures.

Symptoms

Pollen allergies are often lumped together under a condition known as hay fever, and have very definite allergy symptoms:

* Runny nose
* Watery eyes
* Sneezing
* Coughing
* Itching in the eyes and nose
* Dark circles under the eyes

If pollen should get into any food that is ateen outdoors, it can also cause some serious internal symptoms, which usually appear after that food has been eaten. If your child develops an itchy or swollen throat, then they are suffering from a condition known as Oral Allergy Syndrome, and should seek medical attention immediately. The types of food generally tainted with pollen include bananas, melons, cucumbers and berries.

Allergens that are airborne like dust and mold can also cause your child to develop asthma symptoms, which makes their airways narrow, leading to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Insect stings can cause itching and swelling, but more serious symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, and swelling of the throat or tongue. If you are not sure that your child is allergic to insect stings, take them into the doctor immediately, just to be safe.

Treatment

Allergies are treated the same way, spring or summer, with any number of over-the-counter or prescription medications. Your pediatrician will advise you on what types can be used to help treat whatever allergy your child may have, and it is always best to follow their advice.

Antihistamines will reduce the symptoms of sneezing and itching, while decongestants are generally given to reduce swelling and congestion of the nasal passageways. Always talk to your pediatrician about potential side effects, especially if there is the potential for adverse effects if your child is on other types of medication at the time of treatment.

Summer Survival Tips

Since triggers for summer allergies are literally everywhere, it can be difficult to avoid all of them. If the local news tells you that pollen counts are high, keep the kids indoors as much as possible. Clean the air filters more often during the spring and summer months. Vacuum and wash clothes and bedding more often. Outside, avoid areas where stinging insects congregate, avoid bright colors and spotted lotions and sunblocks.