Addressing Spring Health Challenges in Kids

May 17, 2022 12:28:13 PM

Written By:
Dr. Matt Hand

kid blowing nose

Seasonal irritants aren’t always just minor annoyances. For some people, they can significantly impact enjoying time outside and carrying out daily routines. While seasonal discomforts can cause disruptions all year round, they are most prevalent for kids during the spring months.

There is not much conclusive evidence on the root causes of seasonal discomforts. Still, we know that heightened immune response, a family history of allergic responses, and diet during early childhood are contributing factors.

In this article, pediatric nephrologist Dr. Matt Hand discusses seasonal health challenges in kids and which diet, lifestyle, and supplemental approaches can help mitigate them.

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signs of seasonal challenges in kids

While seasonal irritants can hit any time of year, spring brings an abundance of environmental offenders. The immune system’s histamine production kicks into high gear to deal with these irritants, along with year-round dust and other inflammatory compounds in our foods and environment.

Common spring discomforts include mild or occasional respiratory and nasal disruption or itchy eyes. Many professionals recommend keeping windows closed and staying inside during times of day when the environment may lend to an increased histamine response. While these strategies can help, they aren’t always feasible and lack a holistic approach.

how to help kids with springtime health challenges

From an integrative medicine standpoint, the following four strategies can work together to help your kids find long-term relief from seasonal discomforts.

mitigate environmental irritants

Modifying your home environment can help, but this approach must be balanced with time spent outside, which has profound and necessary health benefits (like sun and vitamin D exposure). Closing windows at night can also help significantly, especially if children are susceptible to outdoor irritants. Other environmental factors to consider are frequent vacuuming, using AC filters, natural home cleaning, personal hygiene products, and detergents.

However, keeping your kids inside isn’t healthy. Getting to the root cause of spring irritants and discomforts is more likely to have a lasting impact and help children maintain a normal life.

eat anti-inflammatory foods

Histamine is produced during a reaction to environmental irritants prevalent in spring, causing discomforts by stimulating the body’s inflammatory response. Eating a whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet can help promote a normal immune response. This dietary approach means minimizing the consumption of processed and packaged foods, avoiding trans fats, and getting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables with each meal.

Foods especially rich in compounds with anti-inflammatory effects include wild fish, walnuts, flax seeds, berries, onions, apples, and citrus fruits.

focus on gut health

Research shows that supporting a healthy gut with supplements, diet, and lifestyle helps lessen seasonal challenges, including having young children take probiotics from a young age and taking probiotics during pregnancy.*[1] Integrative providers often recommend probiotics for children with a family history of seasonal issues, such as skin problems.*

neti pots or saline spray

Neti pots for older children or saline sprays for younger children can make a massive difference, but they must be used for the entire season. Saline solutions help clear mucus and other nasal debris and moisten mucous membranes.

take supplements

Providers often recommend the following five supplements for seasonal support, depending on the child’s age.

Quercetin is a powerful plant flavonol from the flavonoid group of polyphenols that is shown to lessen discomforts from seasonal health challenges.*[2] It’s often combined with the enzyme bromelin, and both are considered safe and well-tolerated by kids of all ages. A typical adult dose is 1,000 mg, 2-3 times per day. This dose will be adjusted depending on the age and size of the child.

Freeze-dried stinging nettle is another supplement shown to manage nasal and respiratory discomforts, but it must be taken in capsule form, making it more appropriate for older kids.* Butterbur is a plant that has been widely used as a supplement for head tension in kids and adults and also seems to be effective in supporting maintaining health during springtime.*[3] 

A lesser-known supplement that might provide significant support is quail egg extract, which contains ovomucoids and ovoinhibitors, enzymes that help kids stay healthy while playing outside.[4]

Related content: dietary supplements for a strong immune system

takeaway: an integrative approach to seasonal health challenges in kids

Help your kids maintain a healthy immune response by lessening home and environmental irritants, offering kids a whole foods diet, supporting gut health, and speaking with your provider about certain supplements that promote healthy histamine production and a normal inflammatory response.* Consistent use of a Neti pot or saline spray bottle can also make a significant difference. Health challenges can put a considerable damper on the joys of spring, and this integrative approach can help your kids enjoy the outdoors.

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[1] Yang, G., Liu, Z. Q., & Yang, P. C. (2013)...rhinitis with probiotics: an alternative approach. North American journal of medical sciences, 5(8), 465–468.

[2] Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Skrovankova, S., & Sochor, J. (2016). Quercetin and Its…Immune Response. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 21(5), 623.

[3] Thomet OA, Wiesmann UN, Blaser K, Simon HU. Differential inhibition of inflammatory effector functions by petasin, isopetasin and neopetasin in human eosinophils. Clin Exp Allergy. 2001 Aug;31(8):1310-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2001.01158.x. PMID: 11529903.

[4] Benichou, A. C., Armanet, M., Bussière, A., Chevreau, N., Cardot, J. M., & Tétard, J. (2014). A proprietary blend of quail egg for the attenuation of nasal provocation with a standardized…hallenge: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Food science & nutrition, 2(6), 655–663.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.