Diagnosing Nasal Allergies in Kids
The key to treating nasal allergies in kids is finding the allergic trigger. That can be tricky, especially in babies or toddlers. Allergy blood tests work fairly well in kids 3 and older, but they're not very reliable in children younger than that, Ogden says.
"It can take a little medical detective work to figure out what's causing the symptoms in young kids," says Bock. Ask yourself some questions. Have the symptoms changed:
- At different times of the year?
- When you're away from home or from household pets?
- When your child has been out of day care for a few days?
- After a leak or flood?
- After renovations?
Making note of any changes in your child's symptoms could be helpful for your doctor. With food allergies, an elimination diet can be a way of finding the cause, Bock tells WebMD.
When you're trying to determine what your child might be allergic to, be methodical and work with your doctor. Don't jump to conclusions.
Some parents focus on a specific allergen without much evidence. As a result they waste effort and money making radical changes to their households -- banning common foods or undertaking extensive renovations. Then they find that their kid is still sneezing, and they were treating an allergy he didn't really have.
Controlling Nasal Allergies in Kids
If your kid does have nasal allergies, your doctor might suggest allergy medicine. You might worry about using medicines in a young child, but there are some safe and effective treatments available. Go over the pros and cons with your doctor -- and never start using an over-the-counter allergy drug without a pediatrician's consent.
One key to good allergic control doesn't involve medicine. If you can keep your kids away from whatever triggers their symptoms, they'll feel better. That's the basic premise of environmental control. Here's how it's done.
- Cover your child's crib or bed mattress with a dust mite-proof cover. Dust mites are a common cause of nasal allergies in kids. Ogden also recommends washing bedding weekly in hot water with an extra rinse cycle.
- Get rid of the stuffed animals. Yes, it might seem heartless to take away your child's favorites. But stuffed animals can be a haven for dust mites and other allergens. If you don't remove them, wash them regularly in hot water. Sticking them in the refrigerator for 24 hours can also help, Ogden says, since it will help kill dust mites.
- Keep your child's room uncluttered. The less stuff in your child's room, the less dust -- and the fewer potentials allergens.
- Remove carpets and heavy drapes. They just trap dust and allergens. Use rugs that you can wash instead.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Standard vacuums might not have filters that are fine enough to catch allergens. As a result, they might spew those allergens back into the air.
- Clean with a wet rag or mop. Sweeping or dusting might just move the allergens around.
- Use air conditioners to filter allergens from outside. Clean or replace the filter regularly, Ogden says.
- Reduce your reliance on chemical cleaners with strong scents. They're common irritants that can worsen allergies. Some fragrances contain allergens.
- Don't allow smoking in the house. Tobacco smoke can be hard on kids with nasal allergies.
- Remove pets from the household. If dander seems to be a problem, you may need to think about finding a new home for your pet. At the very least, keep pets out of your child's bedroom and playroom.