Allergies

What is Allergic Rhinitis in children?

Allergic Rhinitis

is a very common condition among children. It is characterized by swelling of the nasal passages. It affects around 20-40 % of children worldwide. It is the most common chronic disease in children. About 1 in 5 children starts showing symptoms of the disease by the age of 2 years or 3 years.

An allergen like pollen or dust, when inhaled, by a person with a sensitive immune system triggers certain chemical reactions in the body and releases chemicals like histamine. This causes the so called allergic reactions like itching, swelling, sneezing, skin rashes etc.

There are two types of the allergy discussed:

Seasonal

– Mostly seen during the pollen seasons like that of spring and does not develop before 6 years of age.

Perennial

– Occurs throughout the year and is most common among children.

What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in children?

  • Sneezing with runny nose. The booger would be mostly a watery discharge.
  • Itchy, watery, red eyes. Swollen eyelids with dark circles.
  • Cough sometimes accompanied with throwing up mucous.
  • Breathing through the mouth. Symptoms of that would be dry, chapped lips and frequent thirst.
  • An itchy sensation in the throat.
  • The child would constantly and vigorously rub the nose to get relief from itching. This would cause the skin at the base of the nose to have creases.
  • Disturbed sleep because of nasal congestion.
  • Prolonged symptoms could lead to asthma, sinus problems and consistent middle ear infections.

What is the treatment of allergic rhinitis in children?

  • The first advice would be to avoid the allergen causing it. However, more often than not, the allergens are environmental like dust and pollen. So nothing can be done about it.
  • The symptoms are treated with the first line of oral and non sedating anti histamines like Loratidine (Claritin) and Certirizine (Zyrtec) available as syrups.
  • Over the counter decongestants can be used to seek short term relief.
  • Nasal irrigation or flushing the insides of the nasal cavity with saline water is also an option. Using saline nasal spray or nebulizers to clear the accumulated mucous and debris and soften the membranes inside the nose is also helpful.
  • In children above three years, topical corticosteroid nasal sprays like Nasonex is sometimes recommended.

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