Up to 40% of children in the United States have nasal allergies according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).These children likely have persistent sneezing along with a stuffy or runny nose. These symptoms, known as “allergic rhinitis” are more likely to develop if either one or both parents have allergies. Nasal allergies can be caused by outdoor allergens such as plant pollens (seasonal allergies) or indoor allergens such as mold, dust mites and pet dander.
If your child has seasonal allergies, pay attention to the pollen counts and try to keep them inside when the pollen levels are high. In the Spring and Summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening. In late Summer,early Fall (ragweed pollen season), pollen levels are the highest in the morning. Besides monitoring Pollen counts, it often helps to keep windows closed in the house and car and run the air conditioning.
Nasal allergies are usually obvious, persistently itchy eyes, runny nose and recurrent sneezing are a dead giveaway. Timing patterns are also a clue, look for symptoms that last longer than what you’d expect for a common cold ( a few weeks), or symptoms that randomly occur on windy days without progressing into an illness, or symptoms that predictably flare up during certain seasons of the year. Sometimes it’s unclear, but subtle clues to nasal allergies can include the following:
- Plugged ears and sinuses without feeling sick.
- Itching of surrounding area (roof of mouth, ears and eyes)
- An allergic crease (a horizontal line above the tip of the nose where the skin folds when a child rubs their itchy nose.
- Clear nasal mucous
- Chronic sore throat and/or cough without feeling ill
- Location where symptoms appear (at home but not at school or vice versa
- Chronic fatigue, headache or irritability
- Recurrent sinus infection or cold symptoms that become chronic
Simply, allergies are itchy, sneezy and drippy and illnesses are thick, stuffy and droopy (child feels ill).
While nasal allergies can be triggered by pretty much any allergen, some allergens that trigger allergic responses within the nose are:
- Cow’s milk
One or more of these six items is most likely the trigger of nasal allergies. Other causes are possible, but these are the ones worth focusing on first.
These symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medicines and if it is a cold, it will pass within a few weeks. If it progresses into a sinus infection, you will see a sinus headache, thick nasal secretions, facial pain and fever. However, if it is an allergy, it may be gone in a day or 2 if it is due to a high pollen count or it may persist for weeks or months without progressing into other symptoms of illness.