Allergic Rhinitis (Child)

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that affects the nose, and often the eyes. It’s often known as nasal allergies. Nasal allergies are often due to things in the environment that are breathed in. Depending on what the child is sensitive to, nasal allergies may occur only during certain seasons, or they may occur year round. Common indoor allergens include house dust mites, mold, cockroaches, and pet dander. Outdoor allergens include pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. 

Symptoms include a drippy, stuffy, and itchy nose. They also include sneezing, red and itchy eyes, and dark circles (“allergic shiners”) under the eyes. The child may be irritable and tired. Severe allergies may also affect the child's breathing and trigger a condition called asthma. 

Tests can be done to see what allergens are affecting your child. Your child may be referred to an allergy specialist for testing and evaluation.

Home care

The healthcare provider may prescribe medicines to help relieve allergy symptoms. These include oral medicines, nasal sprays, or eye drops. Follow instructions when giving these medicines to your child.

Ask the provider for advice on how to stay away from substances that your child is allergic to. Below are a few tips for each type of allergen.

  • Pet dander:

    • Do not have pets with fur and feathers.

    • If you have a pet, keep it out of your child’s bedroom and off upholstered furniture.

  • Pollen:

    • Change your child’s clothes after outdoor play.

    • Wash and dry your child's hair each night.

  • House dust mites:

    • Wash bedding every week in warm water and detergent or dry on a hot setting.

    • Cover the mattress, box spring, and pillows with allergy covers. 

    • If possible, have your child sleep in a room with no carpet, curtains, or upholstered furniture.

  • Cockroaches:

    • Store food in sealed containers.

    • Remove garbage from the home promptly.

    • Fix water leaks.

  • Mold:

    • Keep humidity low by using a dehumidifier or air conditioner. Keep the dehumidifier and air conditioner clean and free of mold.

    • Clean moldy areas with bleach and water.

  • In general:

    • Vacuum once or twice a week. If possible, use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

    • Don't smoke near your child. Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke is an irritant that can make symptoms worse.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised. If your child was referred to an allergy specialist, make this appointment promptly.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if the following occur:

  • Coughing

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the healthcare provider

  • Hives (raised red bumps)

  • Continuing symptoms, new symptoms, or worsening symptoms

Call 911

Call  911 if your child has:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat

  • Inability to talk

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Skin or lips that look blue, purple, or gray

  • Seizure

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