Hay fever (pollen allergy)

Pollen from trees, weeds and grasses floats in the air. During warm weather, these allergens get in your child's eyes, nose and throat.

For most people, this causes no problems. If your child has allergies, these allergens cause a runny nose, coughing, sneezing and watery eyes.

Symptoms of hay fever are:

  • nasal congestion
  • sneezing
  • itchy, watery, red eyes

Common hay fever triggers

There is no cure for hay fever, but there are triggers that can make your child's hay fever worse. You can understand the triggers and learn how to avoid or control them.

Hay fever triggers include:

  • pet dander (such as dogs and cats)
  • molds (such as in house plant soil, in the bathroom and in dried leaves)
  • dust (such as found on stuffed animals, feather pillows, down-filled jackets and quilts, thick carpeting, heavy drapes, blinds and chenille bedspreads). Dust can be moved around by a forced air furnace. Be sure to clean your furnace filter often.
  • pollens (especially ragweed, trees and grasses)

Common hay fever medicines

There are two common types of hay fever medicines:

  • nasal sprays (These help keep allergic reactions from starting.)
  • oral anti-histamines (These stop symptoms like runny noses or itchy eyes that are from allergic reactions.)

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or "she" and "him" or "her."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016

Oral and nasal decongestants aren't recommended for children younger than 6 years old.