Allergy to particles in the air (as mentioned in the asthma section above), usually grass and tree pollen, can affect the nose and eyes, as well as lungs. Eyes can get swollen, red and itchy (conjunctivits), your nose can be blocked, or runny, or both, and you may find yourself sneezing incessantly (rhinitis). Different people can have different combinations of symptoms. Hayfever refers to conjunctivitis and/or rhinitis related to pollens, so only causing problems during the spring/summer. Some people get the same symptoms all year round, which is likely to be due to other allergies eg cat, dog, dust mite.
You might only be allergic to one specific sort of pollen (not necessarily hay!), but you might be allergic to many different kinds, in which case you might get symptoms from early spring right into autumn. Symptoms will vary depending on where you are, the time of day, and the weather. Some weather forecasts will specifically mention pollen levels.
Hayfever is often dismissed as an inconvenience. But symptoms can be very troublesome, in particular with sleep disturbance, and this can have a knock-on effect on the child’s ability to concentrate during the day. There is even evidence that children with hayfever do not do as well in their exams (typically in the summer, after all) as you would expect them to do. In children who also have asthma, by improving control of one of these conditions, it helps improve control of the other. It is very important therefore to try and control these symptoms.
Part of the treatment is to avoid contact with the particle to which the child is allergic. As mentioned above, this may be helped by allergy testing. Avoiding grass and pollen may involve avoiding going outside when pollen counts are high, not sitting near open windows in school especially when grass is being cut, choosing holidays to places where pollen is less of a problem. There is some evidence for nasal saline douches.
Then there are a variety of topical treatments such as eye drops and nasal sprays. It is important to know how to give these properly, people often do it wrong, sometimes you only see benefit when you have been using them regularly for a week or more. Long acting, non-drowsy antihistamines by mouth are also very useful, and for more persistent symptoms, these can be taken daily. Where one type or brand of medicine doesn’t seem to be working, it is worth trying an alternative or else a combination of medicines. Some asthma medicines eg montelukast will also help.
Where symptoms persist despite appropriate use of these treatments, a review in allergy or ENT clinic may be helpful to ensure the diagnosis is correct and to discuss other possible treatment options including desensitization.