Allergies and asthma are among the most common health problems, with many people affected by asthma, seasonal hay fever or other allergy-related conditions each year.
Up to 40 percent of children suffer from allergic rhinitis, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Allergic rhinitis is a reaction that happens in the eyes, nose and throat when allergens in the air trigger the release of histamine in the body. Histamine causes itching, swelling and fluid build-up in the fragile linings of nasal passages, sinuses and eyelids.
Allergic rhinitis can happen on a seasonal basis or year-round. Year-round allergic rhinitis happens more often in younger children, and there is usually a family history of it.
Allergies can affect anyone. Generally, allergies are more common in children; however, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age or recur after many years of remission.
Allergies tend to occur in families, although the exact genetic factors that cause it are not yet understood. Children are more likely to develop allergies if one or both parents have allergies.
The most common seasonal allergy causes:
- Pollen from trees, grass or weeds
- Dust mites
- Cockroach waste
- Animal dander
- Tobacco smoke
The most common symptoms (However, each child may experience symptoms differently):
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose, throat, eyes and ears
- Clear drainage from the nose
Children with year-round allergic rhinitis may also have these symptoms:
- Ear infections that keep coming back
- Breathing through the mouth
- Poor performance in school
- A line or crease across the bridge of the nose from wiping the nose
- Controls in your environment, such as air conditioning during pollen season
- Avoiding areas where there is heavy dust, mites, molds
- Avoiding pets
Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma
Children with asthma are at a higher risk for rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is a common problem that may be linked to asthma. However, this link is not fully understood. Experts think that since rhinitis makes it hard to breathe through the nose, it is harder for the nose to work normally. Breathing through the mouth does not warm, filter or humidify the air before it enters the lungs. This can make asthma symptoms worse. Controlling asthma may help control allergic rhinitis in some children.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your child’s health care provider for a diagnosis. Typically, your child’s health care provider, based on a thorough medical history and physical exam, makes the diagnosis. During the exam, your child’s health care provider may also find dark circles under the eyes, creases under the eyes and swollen tissue inside the nose. If this is the case, then your child’s health care provider may refer your child to see an allergist. An allergist is a doctor who is trained to do allergy skin testing. This will tell you exactly what things are causing your child to have symptoms.
At Children’s Hospital of Georgia, we offer physicians who are board-certified in allergy-immunology. Our services include allergy diagnosis and care for eosinophilic esophagitis (allergic reactions in the esophagus), in coordination with pediatric gastroenterologists; diagnosis and care for eczema and other skin conditions that may be caused by allergy, in coordination with dermatologists; and allergy testing for pollens, pets, indoor dust, fungi, food, drug and venom testing and challenges; and immunodeficiency evaluations.
The Children’s Hospital of Georgia has the largest team of general pediatricians, adolescent medicine physicians and pediatric specialists in the Augusta area. For more information, visit our website at augustahealth.org/kids or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).