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  Allergic Rhinitis

What is allergic rhinitis?

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

Allergic rhinitis, one type of rhinitis, is uncommon in children younger than 3 years of age. However, prevalence increases with age. There is usually a family history of allergic rhinitis. This disease affects up to 20% of children and 15 to 30% of adolescents. It is estimated that 75% of children with asthma also have allergic rhinitis.

What are the types of allergic rhinitis?

The two categories of allergic rhinitis include:
- seasonal - occurs particularly during pollen seasons. Seasonal allergic rhinitis does not usually develop until after 6 years of age.
- Perennial - occurs throughout the year. This type of allergic rhinitis is commonly seen in younger children.

What are the causes of allergic rhinitis?

The most common causes of allergic rhinitis include the following:

    - pollen
    - dust
    - mites
    - mold
    - animal dander

What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis:
your child's age, overall health, and medical history
extent of the reaction
your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
expectations for the course of the reaction
your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:
antihistamines - help to decrease the release of histamine, possibly decreasing the symptoms of itching, sneezing, or runny nose. Some examples of antihistamines are diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) or hydroxyzine (Atarax®). These medications may cause drowsiness. Consult your child's physician to determine the proper dosage for your child
nonsedating antihistamines work like antihistamines but without the side effect of drowsiness. Nonsedating antihistamines may include cetirizine (Zyrtec®:) or loratadine (Claritin®). Consult your child's physician to determine the proper dosage for your child.
anti-inflammatory nasal sprays-help to decrease the swelling in the nose. Consult your child's physician to determine the proper dosage for your child.


corticosteroid nasal sprays-also help to decrease the swelling in the nose. Corticosteroid nasal sprays work best when used before the symptoms start, but can also be used during a flare-up. Consult your child's physician to determine the proper dosage for your child.
decongestants - help by making the blood vessels in the nose smaller, thus, decreasing congestion. Decongestants can be purchased either over-the-counter or by prescription. Consult your child's physician to determine the proper dosage for your child.

If your child does not respond to avoidance or to the above medications, your child's physician may refer you to an allergist for testing. The allergist then may recommend immunotherapy based on the findings.

Immunotherapy usually involves a three to five year course of repeated injections of specific allergens to decrease the reaction to these allergens when your child comes into contact with them. Consult your child's physician for more information.

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


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