Allergic Rhinitis CAN Be Controlled – Here’s How

Allergic rhinitis – usually simply called “allergies” – is a chronic illness resulting in stuffy, runny nose, nasal congestion. Itchy, burning eyes and general low energy are often associated. You know all that, or you wouldn’t be reading this, right? It is estimated that allergic rhinitis affects nearly 50 Million Americans. Over half of those with sinus disease have a history of allergic rhinitis, and it is estimated that close to 95% of those with asthma have rhinitis. Your child may have both too.

The good news – allergies CAN be controlled.

Allergies are often co-morbid with asthma and sinusitis. That is, they occur together. The severity and frequency of allergies vary with the region you live in, but can be a pretty big deal no matter where you are: Allergic rhinitis is the most prevalent chronic condition in children (below age 18). We know that nearly 40% of children miss school each year due to allergies.

Treat the Inflammation:

The good news is that allergic rhinitis can be controlled. Treating the underlying inflammation is the key to relieving symptoms, and to reducing co-morbidities.

Here are some suggestions to eliminate allergies from your child’s life:

  1. Learn the difference between symptoms of allergies and viral URI (common cold). These illnesses have many symptoms in common. But they are treated differently, so telling them apart is important:

Table from WebMD article at: http://bit.ly/AwrSn

Characteristic Cold Allergy
Duration three-14 days Days to months — as long as you are exposed to the allergen
Time of Year Most often in the winter, but possible at any time Any time of the year — although the appearance of some allergens are seasonal
Onset of symptoms Symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus. Symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen
Symptom Cold Allergy
Cough Often Sometimes
Aches Sometimes Never
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes
Fever Rarely Never
Itchy, watery eyes Rarely Often
Sore throat Often Sometimes
Runny or stuffy nose Often; usually yellow mucus Often; usually clear mucus
  1. Get your child allergy-tested. Make an appointment to see an Allergist, preferably a Pediatric Allergist. Testing, and even simply meeting with the allergist, can often help identify the triggers for your child’s allergies. Identifying the triggers is the first step to eliminating them.
  2. Start an Allergy Diary or Log: record your child’s diet and activities so that you can relate their allergy symptoms back to their foods, where they were, and what they were doing. This will help identify their triggers. See the book, “Is This Your Child?” by Dr. Doris Rapp.
  3. Take a Holistic Approach: Become actively involved in your child’s Allergy Plan. Learn as much as you can about their triggers and begin eliminating those triggers from their lives. Don’t have a Plan? It’s time. See http://www.allergyactionplan.com/
  4. Consider natural alternatives to common allergy medications. Anti-histamines introduce multiple potential issues for children, including drying effect on sinus secretions (bad for clearance), sleep problems, and behavioral problems.
    Daily nasal saline rinses are guaranteed to reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
  5. Start eating LOCAL honey – it may help your immune system to tolerate the local pollens: http://bit.ly/aHAcj
  6. Do everything you can to eliminate dust mites (see great link below in resources):
    1. Dust-proof bedding covers
    2. Launder bedding often, at high temperature
    3. Get rid of stuffed toys
    4. Get rid of carpets if possible
    5. Damp-dust surfaces
    6. Replace cloth-upholstered furniture with wood, plastic, or leather
    7. Limit humidifier use to nighttime, let the rooms dry out during day
    8. Ventilate bedrooms; don’t make the beds in order for them to air-out and dry out during the day: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4181629.stm

Thanks for visiting, see you here later – we will be going into more detail on how to rid your children of allergies, rhinitis, sinusitis, and other chronic aero-digestive inflammatory disorders on this site.

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Stay informed.

Stay healthy.

Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor ;~D)

Resources:

Togias A: Mechanisms of nose-lung interaction. Allergy. Vol. 54: 94-105; 1999.

Rapp D: Is This Your Child?; Harper, Pub., 1992; ISBN-10: 0688119077.

Great Website: “House dust mites – cause of most asthma, nasal allergy and some eczema”: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~aair/mites.htm

Comments

  1. I think my toddler may have allergies…at what age will she be old enough for allergy testing? Does it hurt?

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Dear Ally,
      Hello and thank you for stopping by. GREAT question!

      Allergy testing CAN be done at any age, as early as infancy. The goal is to identify the triggers of allergies. That is, what are the “allergens” that cause a reaction? The challenge (I hate to use the term “problem”) is that identifying these triggers is very difficult.

      There are several different kinds of allergy tests (yes, some are uncomfortable). Results from the different kinds of allergy tests can even disagree. The good news is that young children tend to grow out of some of their allergies.

      If your toddler has severe symptoms it is advisable to see a pediatric allergist. If not so severe, there are things that you can do at home: it is reasonable to begin trying to eliminate the usual suspects – minimize exposure to pet dander, reduce dust mites in the home (as suggested in this post), and begin a food elimination / challenge program to identify food intolerance or allergies.

      In other words, do the things suggested in this post.

      Also note that symptoms of stuffy and runny nose (rhinitis) is more commonly the result of viral irritation than allergy for infants and toddlers. Allergic rhinitis becomes more common as they enter school-age (5 or so), although viral infections still play a role

      Thanks again for visiting, and please visit again, as I will begin interviewing expert allergists beginning this month so that we can all learn more. RF

  2. I love your website. It has all the information I need for my son’s seasonal allergies…kindda like one stop-shop! :) I thought I knew almost everything until I read in your blog that local honey may help with local pollen. It makes sense but how much research has been done on that? I’ll start my son on Michigan honey from today simply because in Eastern culture honey has over a 100 benefits.

    Thanks for your expert opinions and sharing all the wonderful information. SL

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Dear SL,
      You are very kind, thank you for your comments. Please check some of the other posts for managing allergic rhinitis. I think that my very first post back in March was on managing allergic rhinitis (http://wp.me/pR4iB-Q).
      I like the IDEA of eating local honey as a way to gently build a tolerance to the local allergens. On the other hand, I also note that most of us with allergies are allergic to grasses and trees. These are not the things that bees use to make honey – they make honey by visiting flowers. So, their honey may not contain low levels, or ANY levels, of the allergens that we are allergic to. So, I just don’t know how helpful it is for local allergies. Still, several experts continue to recommend eating local honey to reduce allergies. There could be worse medicines.
      I love honey. And, as you point out, honey has MANY benefits. I have a post scheduled for June on how honey acts as such a strong antibiotic.
      Again, thank you for visiting, and for your kind comments. Please continue to check in on a regular basis. RF

  3. Susan Sullivan says:

    Thank you Dr, Faust for this website offering a wealth of knowledge for us all. My ex has recently been suffering bouts of chronic sinusitis..one infection backed upon another…with only days or short weeks between them. He has gone to the best ENT (New Haven, CT) who told him it was” difficult to see his sinuses” in the xray and is going to send him to get an MRI. My question to you (and Yes I think it is a great one..)is it possible that he might have gotten MRSA from his mother.in.law who lived with him and his wife shortly prior to her death and stay at Hospice? Could this cause his recent health problem?

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Susan,

      MRSA can certainly be related to sinusitis. Whether MRSA (or other bacteria) are involved in his recent illness can be determined. I am hoping that he will be evaluated with a CT scan, and not an MRI. The CT scan is the standard for evaluation of nasal sinuses; the MRI is better at evaluating soft tissue, often used for sinus evaluation (if ever) only after a CT scan has been done. Regardless, crucial information is often lost in the translation between the doc on your end and what gets communicated through to me, so it is impossible for me to add anything further. The most important step, in my opinion, is for him to find an ENT who specializes in rhinitis and sinusitis (often called a Rhinologist), one that he can hopefully communicate with and trust, and to work with that doc to find a solution to his illness.

      Thank you so much for reading, visiting, and sharing.
      RF

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