Up to 1 in 5 school-aged children has nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis. Parents often want to give their kids medicine to relieve allergy symptoms. But medicines, even over-the-counter (OTC) ones that control sniffling and sneezing, can have side effects that can make your child tired and unable to focus well. Your child also may have to struggle to stay energized for other activities such as sports. On the other hand, leaving nasal allergies untreated can also interfere with school performance. So what is a concerned parent to do?
OTC treatments: benefits and drawbacks
One of the first treatments used for allergies is OTC antihistamines. Some of them, though, can make kids feel tired, irritable or distracted. This can affect your child's ability to do well in school.
You can avoid some side effects by choosing an antihistamine that's less likely to cause sleepiness. Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) is one option. Another is cetirizine (Zyrtec). These medicines can cause drowsiness in some people. But the effect is usually less than that from some older drugs such as diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl). Keep in mind that when you use over-the-counter medicines, it's important to follow the instructions on the package. These medications aren't safe for all children, so check with your doctor first. And remember, more is never better or safe when using medicine.
A word about OTC nasal sprays
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