Allergies in children affect their daily lives and is a painful experience for parents too. It is important for us to differentiate between common cold and allergies and ensure we prevent our child from becoming allergic by taking right precautions. In this article, we are discussing nasal allergies in children, their symptoms, causes and prevention methods.
What is allergy?
In simple terms, allergy is an exaggeration of a normal immune reaction in response to some specific stimulus. The substance that incites the reaction is called an allergen
The child can come in contact with an allergen either by touch/inhaling it/eating it, or in a rare case, by injecting it. Once the allergen enters the body, it acts like an invader and incites the allergic reaction.
Apart from food and skin allergies, nasal allergies plague children very frequently
Commonest symptoms of Nasal Allergy
Runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, red and itchy eyes, cough, child constantly rules the tip of nose upwards (called allergic salute). There is absence of fever and symptoms continue if untreated (unlike common cold which subsides in a week to ten days).
Causes of Nasal allergy
Although allergies are not inherited, if one or both parents have allergies, the child is at a higher risk of being allergic. Most common causes of nasal allergies are:
1. Exposure to dust mites (responsible in 85% cases)
2. Variations in temperatures (Especially during change of season)
3. Pollen, mold, animal lander
Infants and toddlers are less prone to nasal allergies. Most commonly affected age group is 3-4 years (coincides with the time the child starts going to school resulting in more external exposure)
In case of allergies, prevention is better than cure.
1. First and foremost, identification of allergen is important. This becomes difficult when children develop allergies to multiple allergens. The ideal practice to avoid allergy is preventing exposure to common allergens like dust/cold/animal lander/pollen/mold.
2. Keep the child’s surrounding clear, regularly washing the clothes, bed linen, carpets etc goes a long way in keeping the dust mites low. Cotton fabrics are better than synthetic ones. Regular hand washing after touching pets, avoiding touching mouth and nose with dirty hands are simple ways to keep exposure low.
3. Nutritious meals with plenty of liquids help in increasing resistance power to withstand allergies.
4. Saline nasal drops, steam inhalation, keeping the child well hydrated by giving plenty of liquids during an allergic attack minimizes durations and severity of the reaction.
When to visit a doctor
Recurrent allergies if left untreated can lead to ear pain/infection, sinusitis, chronic cough and recurrent chest infections.
If the allergies are interfering with normal child development or any of the above complications are noticed consistently, it is time to see a doctor and take medication