Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, which is caused by an allergen, refers to nose and eye problems that occur at least once a week. When only the nose is affected, it is called allergic rhinitis. It is also known as hay fever, “sinus” or “sensitive nose”. When only the eyes are affected, it is called allergic conjunctivitis.
Most allergies are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This means that there is often a family member with asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis or eczema.
Children with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis are prone to:
These symptoms tend to occur weekly in the morning and evening but can last the whole day.
When the nose problems are significant, some of these children develop prolonged cough as well. Many parents are worried that prolonged cough will develop into asthma. This is untrue. A child with asthma can indeed have a prolonged cough but prolonged cough does not cause asthma to develop later on. Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma can and often do co-exist so it is not surprising that someone with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis may be diagnosed with asthma.
We provide comprehensive testing for children with allergies. This includes skin prick testing for outdoor allergens such as house dust mites, food and drugs. Blood tests can also be done.
Like most allergies, treatment will consist of allergen avoidance and the use of medications.
Antihistamines are safe and effective even in very young children.
Topical steroids such as nasal sprays are also safe options. As they require a longer time to work, they need to be used regularly over days to weeks to reap the benefits. They are particularly helpful in reducing nasal blockage or congestion.
Please consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis before administering medication.
If your child is allergic to house dust mite allergens, wash your beddings (bed sheets, pillowcases and covers) in hot water that is 60°C weekly or fortnightly. Minimise the use of carpets, soft toys or thick curtains. The house should be kept dust-free by damp cleaning. Vacuum only when your child is not at home and let the air settle for about 2 hours before allowing him or her to enter the room. Mite-proof mattresses and pillow covers may be helpful but are expensive.
If your child is allergic to pet allergens, avoidance of the animal is recommended. However, it is advisable to have a proper allergy test and consultation with your doctor before doing so. If avoidance of the pet is not possible, reduce exposure by preventing it from entering your child's bedroom.