Allergic Rhinitis

Picture of young boy sitting in a field of wild flowers

What is allergic rhinitis?

Rhinitis is a reaction that occurs in the nose when airborne irritants (allergens) trigger the release of histamine. Histamine causes itching, inflammation, and fluid or mucous production in the fragile linings of nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids.

There is usually a family history of allergic rhinitis.

What are the types of allergic rhinitis?

The two categories of allergic rhinitis include:

  • Seasonal. This type occurs particularly during pollen seasons.

  • Perennial. This type occurs throughout the year and is commonly seen in younger children.

Prevention & Risk Treatment

Prevention & Risk Treatment

What are the causes of allergic rhinitis?

The most common causes of allergic rhinitis include the following:

  • Pollen (for example, tree, grass, or weed)
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Animal dander
  • Tobacco smoke

What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose, throat, eyes, and ears
  • Nosebleeds
  • Clear drainage from the nose
  • Children with perennial allergic rhinitis may also have the following:
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Snoring
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Poor performance in school
  • "Allergic salute." This is when a child rubs his or her hand upward across the bridge of the nose while sniffing. This may cause a line or crease to form across the bridge of the nose.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is allergic rhinitis prevented?

Preventive measures for avoiding allergic rhinitis include:

  • Environmental controls, such as air conditioning, during pollen season
  • Avoiding areas where there is heavy dust, mites, molds
  • Avoiding pets

The link between allergic rhinitis and asthma

Controlling asthma may mean controlling allergic rhinitis in some patients, according to allergy and asthma experts. Allergic rhinitis is a common problem that may be associated with asthma.

Guidelines from the World Health Organization recognize the link between allergic rhinitis and asthma. Although the link is not fully understood, one theory asserts that rhinitis makes it difficult to breathe through the nose, which hampers the normal function of the nose. Breathing through the mouth does not warm the air, or filter or humidify it before it enters the lungs, which can make asthma worse.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed?

Typically, the diagnosis is made by your child's health care provider based on a thorough medical history and physical examination. In addition to the above symptoms, your child's health care provider may find, on physical examination, dark circles under the eyes, creases under the eyes, and swollen tissue inside the nose. If this is the case, then your child's doctor may refer your child to see an allergist. An allergist is a specialist who is trained to perform allergy skin testing, which will tell you exactly what environmental aeroallergens cause allergic symptoms in your child.

Children's Team

Children's Team

Providers

zalzal

George Zalzal

Division Chief, Ear, Nose, and Throat (Otolaryngology)
Departments

Departments

Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology)

Our pediatric ENT (otolaryngology) experts provide advanced, comprehensive services for children.

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