Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies)

Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies)

Itchy, watery eyes and nasal congestion are common complaints of children suffering from allergic rhinitis – also known as seasonal allergies or indoor allergies.

What is Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies)?

Allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) causes itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose and other sinus symptoms. It is triggered by allergens such as pollen, mold or dust that enter the body through the nose or mouth (inhalant allergens).

The body’s immune system is designed to protect from harmful germs and bacteria. Sometimes, when the immune system mistakes pollen or allergens for something more serious, it can mount an immune response, which may lead to the release of inflammatory cells and mediators.

This response causes nasal passages, sinuses and eyes to swell and can create other symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or watery eyes. These symptoms are a result of the body trying to get rid of the allergens or prevent them from entering.

What are the different types of Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies)?

Allergic rhinitis is usually classified by the frequency and severity of symptoms and episodes. Depending on the classification, your child’s doctor can create a treatment plan that will manage nasal allergy symptoms and bring relief.

Allergic Rhinitis frequency

Frequency refers to how often your child experiences symptoms. It is divided into intermittent or persistent:

  • Intermittent allergic rhinitis is diagnosed if your child has symptoms less than four days a week or four weeks of the year.
  • Persistent allergic rhinitis is diagnosed if your child’s symptoms occur more than four days a week or four weeks of the year.

Allergic Rhinitis severity

The severity of your child’s nasal allergies can help your doctor determine how much the symptoms are interfering with your child’s quality of life. Severity is divided into mild, moderate or severe:

  • Mild allergic rhinitis does not affect daily activities or sleep patterns.
  • Moderate to severe allergic rhinitis interferes with sleep, daily activities, sports, leisure activities, school or triggers serious symptoms, such as asthma attacks.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies)?

  • Stuffy nose/nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Post nasal drainage

How is Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies) diagnosed?

An allergy work-up is an important step of diagnosing allergic rhinitis.  This includes a thorough history, physical exam and allergy testing when appropriate.

What are the causes of Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies)?

Allergic rhinitis symptoms occur when a person inhales something they are allergic to. Common allergens include: 

  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen (weeds, grasses, trees)

How is Pediatric Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies) treated?

Your child’s doctor will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses your child’s nasal allergy triggers. Treatment may include:

  • Controlling environmental triggers
  • Medication to help manage symptoms
  • Immunotherapy

We are committed to helping your child find relief with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to effectively manage nasal allergy symptoms. Learn more about the Children’s Health approach to diagnosing and treating allergic rhinitis. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes allergic rhinitis?

    Allergic rhinitis occurs when your immune system mounts a response to an inhaled allergen, such as mold, weeds or pet dander. Your body mistakes the substance for a germ or bacteria and attempts to expel the foreign body with a response. That response may include symptoms such as watery eyes, nasal congestion or coughing.

  • Can allergic rhinitis be cured?

    There is no cure for allergic rhinitis, but effective management of triggers can reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms. Your child may also outgrow allergic rhinitis for a time, but it could return in adulthood. 

  • Will my child be able to live a normal life?

    Yes, complications can occur if your child’s condition is not treated. Long-lasting allergic rhinitis can lead to sinusitis, clogged ears and ear infections, sleep apnea and asthma. It can also lead to an overall feeling of malaise.

  • How does allergic rhinitis affect an individual?

    An allergen triggers an allergy. Specifically, when breathed in, the allergen causes the immune system to release substances (IgEs) into the nasal passages and inflammatory chemicals such as histamines.

  • What plants cause hay fever?

    Hay fever results from an allergic reaction to pollen. Plants that cause hay fever are trees, grasses and weeds. Their pollen is carried through the air by wind. However, the type of plant that causes hay fever can vary from person to person. Other allergies occur when a person breathes in an allergen such as mold, animal dander or dust.

  • Does an allergy like hay fever run in families?

    Quite often it does. If you or your spouse has hay fever or other allergies, your child is likely to suffer from them, too.

  • Does weather impact the severity of symptoms?

    Yes. There is more pollen in the air during hot, dry, windy days. On cool, damp, rainy days, most pollen is washed to the ground. That is why most weather reports now include a forecasted pollen count. You may want to keep your child indoors on days when the pollen count is especially high.

  • Are there complications with allergic rhinitis?

    Yes, complications can occur if your child’s condition is not treated. Long-lasting allergic rhinitis can lead to sinusitis, clogged ears and ear infections, sleep apnea and asthma. It can also lead to an overall feeling of malaise.