Ease Your Child’s Seasonal Allergies
By Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
Healthnotes Newswire (August 18, 2005)—Children suffering from seasonal allergies may benefit from daily nasal rinsing with a salt-water (saline) solution, according to the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology (2005;137:310–4).
Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is the most common allergic disease. Sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching of the nose and eyes may result from exposure to allergens such as pollen and mold. Chronic allergic rhinitis can lead to sinus infections and is also a risk factor for asthma.
Antihistamines may help relieve the runny nose, sneezing, and itching associated with these allergies, but some, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl™), can cause drowsiness and dry mouth. Cetirizine (Zyrtec™), a non-sedating antihistamine is approved for treating allergies in children as young as two years old, but it is associated with side effects, including headache, stomach pain, and sore throat.
Nasal rinsing, sometimes called nasal irrigation or nasal lavage, involves spraying saline solution into each nostril, covering the mucous membranes that line the inside of the nose and the sinus passages. This can be accomplished using a bulb syringe, a bottle specially fitted with a spray top, or a device called a neti pot. Nasal cleansing using neti pots is a practice from India that dates back hundreds of years.
Nasal irrigation may relieve allergic symptoms by helping to remove mucus and other debris from the nose and sinuses. It may also improve the health of the tissues that line these areas and help prevent infections. Previous studies support the use of nasal irrigation for the treatment of allergic rhinitis in adults.
The new study evaluated the effect of daily nasal irrigation in 40 children (aged 5 to 14 years) with allergies caused by grass pollen. The participants were assigned to either a nasal rinsing group or a no-treatment (control) group. The nasal rinsing group was instructed to spray a 3% saline solution three times into each nostril three times per day for seven consecutive weeks during peak allergy season. Nasal and eye symptoms and the use of antihistamine medications were recorded daily. Over the course of the study, the nasal irrigation group reported less nasal obstruction and discharge, and less redness and itching of the eyes than the control group; the difference between the groups was significant in the last two weeks of the study. In five of the seven weeks of the trial, the nasal irrigation group used significantly less antihistamine medications than the control group. No adverse effects related to the treatment were noted.
Nasal rinsing has been shown to effectively treat chronic sinus infections in children. The results of the new study suggest that daily nasal rinsing with a saline solution may also safely treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in children.
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths, Inc., in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp teaches holistic medicine classes and provides consultations focusing on detoxification and whole-foods nutrition.
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