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Allergic Rhinitis in Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is allergic rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is swelling of the inside of your child's nose. The swelling is an allergic reaction to allergens in the air. Allergens include pollen in weeds, grass, and trees, or mold. Indoor dust mites, cockroaches, pet dander, or mold are other allergens that can cause allergic rhinitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
- Nasal congestion (your child may breathe through his or her mouth at night or snore)
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose, eyes, or mouth
- Red, watery eyes
- Postnasal drip (nasal drainage down the back of your child's throat)
- Cough or frequent throat clearing
- Feeling tired or lethargic
- Dark circles under your child's eyes
How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed?
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and examine him or her. He or she may ask if you know what makes your child's symptoms worse. Tell him or her if you have pets. Your child may need any of the following:
- Skin testing may show what your child is allergic to. Your child's healthcare provider lightly pricks or scratches your child's skin with tiny amounts of a possible allergen. He or she watches to see how your child's skin reacts. If a bump appears within a few minutes, your child is likely allergic to the allergen.
- A blood test may be done to find out what your child is allergic to.
How is allergic rhinitis treated?
- Antihistamines help reduce itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. Ask your child's healthcare provider which antihistamine is safe for your child.
- Nasal steroids may be used to help decrease inflammation in your child's nose.
- Decongestants help clear your child's stuffy nose.
- Immunotherapy may be needed if your child's symptoms are severe or other treatments do not work. Immunotherapy is used to inject an allergen into your child's skin. At first, the therapy contains tiny amounts of the allergen. Your child's healthcare provider will slowly increase the amount of allergen. This may help your child's body be less sensitive to the allergen and stop reacting to it. Your child may need immunotherapy for weeks or longer.
How can I manage allergic rhinitis?
The best way to manage your child's allergic rhinitis is to avoid allergens that can trigger his or her symptoms. Any of the following may help decrease your child's symptoms:
- Rinse your child's nose and sinuses with a salt water solution or use a salt water nasal spray. This will help thin the mucus in your child's nose and rinse away pollen and dirt. It will also help reduce swelling so he or she can breathe normally. Ask your child's healthcare provider how often to rinse your child's nose.
- Reduce exposure to dust mites. Wash sheets and towels in hot water every week. Wash blankets every 2 to 3 weeks in hot water and dry them in the dryer on the hottest cycle. Cover your child's pillows and mattresses with allergen-free covers. Limit the number of stuffed animals and soft toys your child has. Wash your child's toys in hot water regularly. Vacuum weekly and use a vacuum cleaner with an air filter. If possible, get rid of carpets and curtains. These collect dust and dust mites.
- Reduce exposure to pollen. Keep windows and doors closed in your house and car. Have your child stay inside when air pollution or the pollen count is high. Run your air conditioner on recycle, and change air filters often. Shower and wash your child's hair before bed every night to rinse away pollen.
- Reduce exposure to pet dander. If possible, do not keep cats, dogs, birds, or other pets. If you do keep pets in your home, keep them out of bedrooms and carpeted rooms. Bathe them often.
- Reduce exposure to mold. Do not spend time in basements. Choose artificial plants instead of live plants. Keep your home's humidity at less than 45%. Do not have ponds or standing water in your home or yard.
- Do not smoke near your child. Do not smoke in your car or anywhere in your home. Do not let your older child smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can make your child's allergies worse. Ask your child's healthcare provider for information if you or your child currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your child's healthcare provider before you or your child use these products.
When should I seek immediate care?
- Your child is struggling to breathe, or is wheezing.
When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?
- Your child's symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child has ear or sinus pain, or a headache.
- Your child has yellow, green, brown, or bloody mucus coming from his or her nose.
- Your child's nose is bleeding or your child has pain inside his or her nose.
- Your child has trouble sleeping because of his or her symptoms.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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