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Allergy Medication for Toddlers & Children

Posted on: June 11, 2022

Managing your kid’s allergies can sometimes feel like a balancing act. Though you want to give your child medication for symptom relief, you may feel concerned about keeping him/her safe and healthy during the process. 

Knowing how and when to administer your kid’s medication is vital for managing allergies. This starts with fully understanding allergy medication for toddlers and children, including risks, dosage and more. To help you out, our experts at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center have put together key information about allergy medication for children.   

Note: All allergy medication should be prescribed by a board-certified allergist and administered according to official directions. Be sure to ask your doctor about your child’s medication if you have questions or are unsure how to proceed.

Contents

The Importance of Diagnosing Your Kid’s Allergies

The first step to correctly using allergy medication is to get an expert diagnosis. Self-diagnosing your child’s allergies could lead to treating the wrong condition or using the wrong medication. It’s best not to risk it. 

If you think your child is showing signs of pediatric allergies, schedule an appointment with a top allergist near you. This doctor will diagnose your kid’s symptoms and create a care plan, which will include clear directions about which medications are best for your child’s situation. 

Getting a proper diagnosis and care plan from an allergist is the surest way to keep your child safe from medication risks.

What Allergy Medicine Is Safe to Give Your Child? 

To start, you should follow the allergist’s instructions about any medications. The two most common types of allergy medicines for children include antihistamines and decongestants

Antihistamines work to block the chemical histamine and prevent allergy symptoms before they start. In contrast, decongestants are aimed at clearing blocked nasal passages to get symptom relief. 

At What Age Can A Child Take Allergy Medicine?

Before starting your child on any allergy medications, always check with your doctor. Some allergy medication in young children may result in serious side effects. While antihistamines are typically fine for children over the age of two, decongestants are advised against until the age of six. 

However, every allergy medication has its own age range, so be sure to check with your allergist before administering any medication to your child.

Can Kids Start Taking Different Meds at Different Ages During Childhood?

Yes, different medications may be available for different age groups. For example, the 2-6 age group and the 6-12 age group usually have distinct medications and instructions available for allergy relief. 

In addition, your child’s allergy symptoms may fluctuate over time, requiring different levels of strength or relief. All allergy medications and changes should be approved by your allergist, so you avoid any risks involved in starting a new medication. 

Is Mixing Allergy Meds Safe?

Mixing allergy meds should only be directed by your allergist for proper dosing and safety.   

On occasion, your allergist may recommend coupling an antihistamine with a decongestant. However, all medications should be approved by your doctor first so you can avoid any contraindications. 

What Allergy Medication Is Approved for Young Infants?

Allergy medication may not be appropriate for young infants. Most antihistamines are good for children aged two and up, while most decongestants are for children aged six and up. However, FDA has approved some medications such as Clarinex and Xyzal for children over the age of six months. 

Other allergy medications may be suitable for young infants depending on their form and use. For example, Singulair’s oral granules can be used for children over six months who have perennial allergic rhinitis

Be sure to consult your doctor before starting allergy medications for young infants and check the labels for correct directions and dosage according to your child’s age. 

Best Allergy Medications for Your Child

The best medication for your child’s allergies is the one prescribed by his/her doctor. Even for over-the-counter medications, you should get advice about which are suitable for your child’s symptoms before starting them. 

To better understand your child’s options, here are some recommendations and key points about allergy medications. 

Antihistamines

The chemical histamine is what results in allergy symptoms like a stuffy nose and itchy eyes. For this reason, antihistamines are commonly prescribed to block histamine and prevent/reduce symptoms. 

Who Should Take It

Overall, this type of medication isn’t safe for children under the age of two, though some may be approved for children as young as six months.

When to Take It

Often this medication is taken before symptoms start, though the exact schedule depends on your allergist’s instructions. Some children take antihistamines before the pollen season starts, while others take them year-round. 

Frequency

Antihistamines vary in their strength as well. Short-acting medications are typically taken every 4-6 hours, while long-acting medications are taken every 12-24 hours. Your allergist will direct you as to how frequently your child should take antihistamines. 

Side Effects

The most common side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness, which is why you should look for non-drowsy medications for daily use. Many of the newer allergy medications are non-drowsy, including Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, and Xyzal. If you do choose a drowsy medication, be sure to give your child the dose at night. 

Types of Antihistamines

Oral antihistamines come in many forms, including syrups, chewables, and regular tablets, according to your child’s preference. Some examples of antihistamines include Clarinex and Atarax, as well as over-the-counter meds like Zyrtec, Benadryl, Allegra, Alavert, and Claritin. 

Two of the most popular OTC medications, for example, include Zyrtec 24-Hr Children’s Allergy Relief Syrup and Children’s Claritin Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief Chewable Tablets.

Remember: Some antihistamines will also include decongestant medicine, so check the label if you’re interested in an all-in-one allergy medication for your child. 

Decongestants

Decongestants are another good option for managing allergies in children. These include nasal sprays, eye drops, and tablets aimed at clearing up a stuffy nose and other sinus symptoms. These meds work by reducing inflammation in the nasal blood vessels. 

Who Should Take It

These products aren’t recommended for children under the age of six, as they provide little benefit and may show rebound side effects. They’re best for older children who are experiencing nasal and sinus congestion. However, they don’t give relief for allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes. 

When to Take It

Decongestants can be taken when symptoms appear. The time of day your child takes decongestants may vary, so consult with your allergist for instructions. Unlike antihistamines which may be used for long-term prevention, decongestants are intended for short-term relief.

Frequency 

Decongestants have both fast and slow-release versions. Some can be taken every 4-6 hours, while others every 12-24 hours. Check the label for instructions about how much your child can take per day. For children, decongestants shouldn’t be used for longer than 5-7 consecutive days. 

Side Effects

It’s important to note that decongestants may cause children to feel more hyper or anxious. For this reason, it’s important to avoid taking them for long-term daily use. 

Types of Decongestants

Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays are used to reduce inflammation and unblock congestion. They can take some time to kick in, but eventually help clear up symptoms. Common meds include Astelin and Astepro antihistamine nasal sprays and Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort, & Nasonex topical nasal steroid sprays. 

Eye Drops

Eye drops are another possibility, which are applied every day to relieve itchy eyes. Eye drops are usually recommended for children over the age of three. In addition, eye drops are often prescribed with other medications to provide optimal relief. Common meds include Optivar, Pataday, Patanol and Zaditor.

Other Medications

Besides antihistamines and decongestants, other asthma medications may be suitable for your child. Medications such as allergy shots and topical creams may be included in your child’s allergy care plan. For example, corticosteroids are effective allergy treatments that are available as creams, inhalers, or sprays. They’re a good option for kids with eczema, skin rashes, or asthma. 

Allergy immunotherapy is another long-term care option, which involves injections to modify your child’s immune system and reduce symptoms. Immunotherapy takes months to work & continues for 3-5 years beyond compliance & response.

Tips for Giving Allergy Medication to Kids

Giving your kid allergy medication should be taken seriously. As you learn how to safely administer medication to your child, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Just because the medication is for children doesn’t mean it’s suitable for your child’s age. You should always consult the directions and follow the dosage instructions for your child’s age. Read the label carefully and check the expiration date, too. 
  • Work to reduce your kid’s exposure to allergens. Preventing exposure can stop allergies from happening in the first place. Avoiding the outdoors at certain times of day and bathing your child before bed to get off any pollen are just two ways to avoid allergens.
  • Try some home remedies to get symptom relief. A saline solution for your child’s nose can clear up blockage and alleviate congestion. Or you might try a cold compress for itchy eyes. 
  • Get the timing right for medication. The time of day and frequently are factors for effectively administering allergy meds. Antihistamines work quickly but may cause drowsiness in kids. Nasal sprays, on the other hand, take time to kick in. 
  • Keep an eye out for reactions. After you give your child allergy medication, be watchful about any side effects. Though some may be mild, it’s good to track any side effects, so you can keep looking for the best allergy medication for your child.

Get Expert Care at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center

Allergy medication for toddlers and children can be tricky to understand, but you’re not alone. As you work to reduce your child’s allergy symptoms, lean on the expertise of our board-certified allergists at the Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. 

Our team is 100% committed to improving patient quality of life through top-of-the-line diagnostic and therapeutic services, as well as compassion-driven care. Reach out to us today to learn more about our allergy care plans for children and schedule an appointment.

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