It’s allergy season in Pennsylvania. We’re stocking up on tissues and allergy meds and eye drops and telling everyone we see that we promise, our kids are not sick, they just have terrible seasonal allergies and oh yeah, we can’t give our one child antihistamines because they make his behavior ABSOLUTELY BONKERS. And of course, he’s my child who most likes to roll around in the grass, which is what he is allergic to.
Certain seasonal allergy medications, specifically those containing antihistamines, can cause side effects that may include hyperactivity and changes in behavior, especially in children. Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical released by the body during an allergic reaction. While effective at reducing allergy symptoms such as sneezing and itching, some antihistamines can also affect the central nervous system, leading to side effects such as hyperactivity, restlessness, and irritability.
These side effects are more commonly associated with first-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton). Second-generation antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Claritin), are generally considered to be less likely to cause these types of side effects.
Both of my sons have seasonal allergies. The 5yo takes Zyrtec with no issues whatsoever. The 4yo has tried both Zyrtec and Claritin and when I tell you, we had the most chaotic, erratic week of our lives while he was on them. Hyperactive, could not settle, oscillating between a joyful mania and collapsing in tears. What the heck is going on?! Am I not a child behavioral specialist?! What is happening this week?!
Oh. Holy shit. It’s the meds.
If you are concerned about your child's behavior or hyperactivity while taking a seasonal allergy medication, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend switching to a different medication, adjusting the dosage, or trying behavioral strategies to manage the side effects. In some cases, it may be necessary to discontinue the medication altogether.
It is important to note that while side effects from seasonal allergy medications can be troublesome, the benefits of treating allergy symptoms generally outweigh the risks, especially for people with severe allergies. Your healthcare provider can help you weigh the risks and benefits of various treatment options and help you find a management approach that works best for you.
For us, we could keep our kiddos inside and avoid antihistamines through fall. But it’s pretty obvious that the more sunshine and exercise my kids get, the happier they are, the better they sleep, and the better they eat. So we spend as much time outside as we can, we sneeze into our elbows, and we keep it moving. Right now we’re avoiding the meds when we can. Some days give us no choice so we just take a deep breath and remind our kiddo to do the same. I taught him some breathing strategies that I teach my clients, and he knows that if he’s in school and his body feels too excited, he can ask to go sit quietly and take five slow belly breaths to calm himself down. Honestly — kid’s a deep breathing pro.
How’s your allergy season going? Let us know in the comments what works for you!
take care of yourself ❤️