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Allergic Rhinitis Treatment in Children

Several types of prescription medications are available for treating allergies in children older than two years:

Antihistamines reduce swelling, redness and irritation of the nose and other parts of the body (such as eyes and throat) by blocking the effects of any histamine released by mast cells. These medications are available by prescription in pill or liquid form as cetirizine (Zyrtec, six months and older) or fexofenadine (Allegra, six years and older) and in nasal spray as azelastine (Astelin, five years and older). Non-prescription antihistamines also are available.

Nasal Steroids act to reduce nasal swelling and redness (inflammation) caused by histamine and other chemicals released from mast cells. Sprayed directly into the nose, these medications are thought to be the most effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. Currently available nasal steroid sprays include mometasone (Nasonex), fluticasone (Flonase), beclomethasone (Beconase), flunisolide (Nasarel), and triamcinolone (Nasacort).

Montelukast (Singulair) belongs to a newer class of medicines called leukotriene inhibitors that help prevent allergy (and asthma) symptoms by blocking the effect of leukotriene, a chemical released in the body when someone is exposed to their allergy triggers. It is available, as granules that mix with food, chewable tablets, or tablets.

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) require regular injections of small, but slowly increasing amounts of allergen (for example, dust or pollens) that fools the immune system, so the nose and other parts of the body become less sensitive. Allergy shots can be uncomfortable, can take as long as 12 months to work, may need to be continued for several years, and only work for some allergens. Therefore, they typically are used only for those children who can not control their allergies by avoiding them and taking other medications

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