Allergic rhinitis, also known as Hay Fever is an allergic response to certain particles and is a common health condition among adults and children. This condition can trigger an allergic response in the nasal mucosa leading to cold and cough. It is estimated that around 15-30% of the Indian population suffers from allergic rhinitis. As high as 70% of people with asthma may have allergic rhinitis as a co-existing health condition. The population of children having this condition is estimated to be approximately 40% especially in urban areas like Bangalore.
Allergic rhinitis is mostly seasonal and it can trigger due to the pollen particles among children and also due to freshly cut grass or flowers. Few might also get allergic rhinitis throughout the year due to dust mites, concrete dust particles, cockroach residue, animal dander or environmental pollutants. Along with this, a lot of other substances can also trigger allergy like reaction – strong perfumes, tobacco smoke, strong cooking aroma etc can also act as irritants.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis among kids
Allergic rhinitis is triggered by the entry of the allergy-causing substance into the nostrils of a child who is prone to it. The symptoms are –
- Stuffy nose with a feeling of constant blockage.
- Water discharge from the nose (clear).
- Throat irritation because of the nasal secretions dripping to the back of the throat.
- Itching of the nose, eyes and ears.
- Sneezing which happens in bouts of many.
- Puffy eyes
- Irritated congested red eyes
- Cough which is usually dry.
- Nose bleeds due to excessive rubbing of the nose.
These symptoms may then lead to other issues which include
- Tiredness and fatigue due to poor sleep because of the nose blockage.
- Irritable and lack of concentration due to constant itching in the nose.
- Nose bleeds especially at night due to vigorous rubbing of the nose.
- Low threshold of developing ear infections.
- Headaches or heaviness of the head.
- Excessive itching of the eyes can cause dark circles under the eyes.
- A crease may develop at the top of the nose due to constant rubbing.
Is allergic rhinitis genetic?
‘Atopy’ or the tendency to develop allergies is commonly seen in a family across generations. However, there is no genetic basis to this argument that it is hereditary. For example if a child is diagnosed with allergic rhinitis then either of the parent may possible have the same condition or one of the other atopic conditions such as asthma, eczema or none at all.
Treating allergic rhinitis effectively
Allergic rhinitis can be treated better if it is diagnosed early. You can also take the support of your paediatrician to identify the symptoms.
- Avoiding allergen:
- Avoid outdoor allergens. Keep windows shut especially in the flowering season and avoid dusty places
- Avoid walking on freshly cut grass
- Wet dusting of household surfaces and vacuum cleaning the house helps maintain dust free environment.
- Changing the sheets more frequently will reduce exposure to dust mites.
- Wash hands after playing with a pet.
- Pest control to contain cockroaches.
- Mold prevention especially in bathrooms.
Medications: There are many medications available for the control of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Your Paediatrician will prescribe them in addition to the precautionary measures based on the child’s symptoms. When symptoms are particularly troublesome an allergy specialist will perform tests to try and pinpoint what exactly the child is allergic to. In certain types allergic immunotherapy can be instituted by them.
Allergic rhinitis generally gets brushed off as dust allergy among children. It is important to identify the symptoms early and start the treatment.
By Dr. Suruchi, Consultant – Paediatrics and Paediatric Endocrinology, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield