School will be letting out in a few weeks, and for some kids that means they’ll be heading off to summer camp. But what does that mean if your child has allergies? Will being outside all day mean they’ll spend the day stuffed up and sneezing?What are the symptoms of allergies? The Carolinas can be tough for allergy patients. In the summer, grass pollen levels are particularly high. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, rashes, congestion, itchiness, and difficulty breathing. Parents should talk with camp staff to let them know of their child’s allergies and any special medical needs they have. Let them know what medicines they have to take and when. Some camps have every parent fill out a form before camp starts so they can proactively prepare for every child’s medical needs.What medicines help treat allergies? Parents should talk to their children to make sure they know to take their daily allergy medication, especially to prepare themselves for possible increases in pollen exposure. Over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays – like Flonase, Nasacort, and Rhinocort – usually need to be taken for a few days to a week before they start working. Antihistamines like Claritin will help with symptoms like a runny nose, but won’t help with a blocked nose like a nasal steroid spray would. While it’s difficult for your children to avoid allergens when they spend all day outside, they should still change their clothes and wash themselves every day in order to keep the pollen off themselves. However, if your child is going to camp in a different environment than the one at home, they might actually feel better. Not only will they be away from their normal allergens, but new allergies wouldn’t start right away. Allergies aren’t triggered the first time someone is exposed to an allergen like pollen. They have to be exposed to it repeatedly for their immune systems to start reacting to it and for allergies to develop. While there are exceptions, for the most part your child wouldn’t be around anything new long enough to develop allergies. The one qualifier to that, however, is how far away from home the camp actually is. “A child living in Charlotte and going to Camp Thunderbird will likely not notice much difference in their symptoms,” CEENTA Otolaryngologist and allergy specialist Hunter Hoover, MD, said. “He or she would probably need to go out of the region to notice an improvement.” Summer is a fun time for children. Following these steps can help yours have an enjoyable, congestion-free time at camp. This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with Dr. Hoover or any of CEENTA’s allergy doctors, call 704-295-3000.