For much of the country, spring means nice weather and more time outside. Unfortunately, it can also mean trouble with allergies. Some allergic reactions are severe and require medical attention, but for milder reactions, there is often no need for medication. Even over-the-counter allergy medication can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and upset stomach. So if your kids are suffering from mild symptoms such as congestion, puffy eyes, and irritated throat, consider a natural approach before heading to the drugstore. And if in doubt, always consult with your doctor. Here are five ways easy ways to fight allergies naturally and safely, kid and teen-approved.
1. Make your home a haven for clean air
Having allergies shouldn't mean that your kid has to stay indoors. But when little ones are at home, it's essential that they be able to relax and be as symptom-free as possible. This can sometimes be difficult, since things like pollen and animal hair can be tracked inside at the end of the day and continue to irritate them throughout the evening.
To prevent this, try to think of your home as a clean-air haven. Keep windows shut. Open blinds mean that you can still enjoy the sunshine without allergens drifting in. Consider installing a special allergy filter on your air conditioning system and a flat panel filter on your furnace. Dust, mop, and sweep regularly to keep your home allergen free, and keep runny noses to a minimum.
2. Soothe symptoms with butterbur
Butterbur is an herb that has long been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties. For years, people have used it to gently treat everything from headaches to indigestion. Research now suggests that butterbur can help those suffering from allergy symptoms as well.
In one study, subjects who were given butterbur tablets for a week said they saw significant improvements in their symptoms. Butterbur tablets are easy to find at health stores and online, and don't usually cost more than standard, over-the-counter medication by weight.
3. Rinse your congested airways
Children's allergy medicine, often sold in liquid form, can taste awful, which can make kids reluctant to take it. Instead, if your little ones are dealing with mild congestion due to allergies, consider helping them use a neti pot to rinse their sinuses, flavor-free. It's a quick, simple way to help relieve congestion, and kids may like the funny, tickly feeling of the rinse.
The process is simple. First, purchase a neti pot, mix 1/2 teaspoon salt with a pinch of baking soda in 8 ounces of warm distilled or sterilized water. Then have your child lean over a sink and help them gently flush one nostril at a time.
4. Prioritize hydration for every family member
It may seem too simple to be helpful, but staying hydrated can be a powerful tool in the fight against allergies. Extra liquid in our bodies means that our mucus linings remain thin, and our sinuses are more likely to keep from being gummed up. There are many healthy options to keep kids hydrated, including water, all-natural juices, lemonade, and teas.
Send them out to play with a reusable bottle of their favorite healthy beverage and offer praise when they come home with the bottle empty. Don't believe the notion that kids are too young to appreciate subtle flavors, like those found in hot teas. Non-caffeinated fruit teas are especially kid-friendly, and can be a great way to hydrate and relax little ones after a day of rigorous play.
5. Wash your clothing frequently
Clothing is a magnet for allergens. Pollen, animal hair, animal dander, plant spores and more can get caught in the fabric of our clothing. Yet laundry is time consuming, and sometimes gets put on the back burner. To cut back on both allergy symptoms and time, encourage kids to help out with their own laundry.
Whether that means hand-washing some often-worn items on their own, or simply participating in the ritual of weekly laundry day, the role of clean clothing in keeping them healthy must be stressed in order for them to want to participate. Working together, you and your kids should be able to keep clothing as allergy-free as possible.