We are in the thick of allergy season, and by all accounts its a doozy this year.

“A lot of kids right now have congestion, post-nasal drip, sneezing and it’s lasting a lot longer,” said Dr. Jasmine Virk, a pediatrician at UPMC Pediatric Center.

Virk says because of our warmer winter, allergy symptoms in kids started sooner this year and are expected last longer.

Virk suggests starting with an over-the-counter allergy medication, such as Claritan, Zyrtec or Allegra. She says the medication should be taken first thing in the morning because the relief can last all day. If they are still experiencing allergy symptoms, try a nasal steroid. Parents are also told be check pollen counts. If it’s high, close all windows and try to keep your kids inside as much as possible. Vacuum the home frequently and wash bedding.

“When they come back indoors, get them to change their clothes,” Virk said. “Get them to take a quick shower or bath and get those allergens off their skin. Sometimes the use of a quick little saline nasal wash can clear the passageway of those allergens.”

If kids have been on an over-the-counter medication for two weeks and they are still suffering, Virk says you can reach out to their pediatrician who might be able to write a prescription or refer your child to a specialist.