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The surge in allergies this year has been due to a very wet winter, followed by a trying spring that has brought erratic temperatures and lots of wind. The result: the perfect storm for the “allergic cascade” to inflict itself on everyone’s nasal mucosa.

The best preventative for nasal allergy symptoms – allergic rhinitis – has been the use of intranasal steroids. These steroid sprays have been used for the past 15 years, and clinical studies have shown that intranasal steroids are superior to oral antihistamines.

Intranasal steroids function by inhibiting the production of chemical mediators, such as histamine and prostaglandin, that cause inflammation and mucous production. In other words, they’re more preventative medications, while an antihistamine is treating the histamine that was released once you inhaled that offending tree or grass pollen. Intranasal steroids may also help ease eye allergy symptoms.

The problem is getting young kids to let you use a nose spray on them. The same holds true for the older ‘tween and teen crowd, who often claim that they “just don’t have the time” to use a spray every day – although it must take all of 15 seconds to use on yourself!

These products have been shown to be effective within three to 12 hours. They reach their maximum effectiveness after several days to weeks of use, so using a nose spray daily and throughout the spring allergy season will provide the maximum therapeutic effect.

There are many different brands available, and everyone seems to have their favorite. If one spray seems to bother your child due to the scent or intensity of the spray, ask your doctor to suggest another brand. Many times, physicians will have samples and can give you several to try. They can then prescribe the one that’s easiest to get your child to use.

The process may be trial and error, but finding the right nasal steroid may make allergy season easier to face.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a pediatrician, medical editor and media host. Submit questions at kidsdr.com.