The surge in allergies this year has been due to our very wet winter and the erratic weather this spring, with wildly fluctuating temperatures and loads of wind. This created the perfect storm for an "allergic cascade" to inflict itself on everyone's nasal mucosa.
Intranasal steroids function by inhibiting the production of chemical mediators, such as histamine and prostaglandin, that cause inflammation and mucus production. In other words, they're more of a preventative medication, while an antihistamine is treating the histamine released once you inhaled the offending tree or grass pollen. Intranasal steroids may also help eye allergy symptoms.
The problem is getting young children to let you use a nose spray on them. The same can hold true for the older tweens and teens, who often complain that they "just don't have the time" to use a spray every day (it must take all of 15 seconds!)
Sprays have been shown to be effective within 3-12 hours, although they reach their maximum effectiveness after several days to weeks of use, so using a spray daily throughout the allergy season will provide the maximum therapeutic effect.
There are many different brands available and everyone seems to have their favorite. If one brand seems to bother your child due to the scent or intensity of the spray, ask your doctor to recommend another one. Many times, physicians will samples and can give you several to try, then prescribe the one that's easiest to get your child to use. Success may be a question of trial and error.
(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com.)