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Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Allergies > Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic Rhinitis

About the condition

Will allergic rhinitis develop into asthma?
Many parents are worried that prolonged cough will develop into asthma. This is a myth. Coughing does not cause asthma. Your child may be coughing because he already has mild asthma. Allergic rhinitis and asthma can co-exist, so it is not surprising that someone with allergic rhinitis later develops asthma.


Signs & Symptoms

Your child has been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis. This means that he is prone to sneezing, itching, running and congestion of the nose. People with allergic rhinitis may sometimes present with a bad cough that is worse at night. This is called "post-nasal drip", and is due to the secretions running from the nose to the back of the throat and irritating it.



Most allergic diseases are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This means that there is usually a family member with asthma, allergic rhinitis or eczema. However, this alone does not account for the increase in allergic diseases that is happening all over the world. Factors in the environment account for this.

What are the things that usually trigger allergic rhinitis?
House dust mite is one of the best-known triggers. These are microscopic creatures that live in areas where humans reside, such as the bed and couch. Pollen, especially in temperate climates, is a major culprit. The fur and secretions from pets is another. Changes in the weather sometimes results in a running nose, but this is not caused by an allergic mechanism.


Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Allergy Tests
We provide comprehensive testing for children with allergies. This includes skin testing for outdoor allergens (eg. Dust mites), food and drugs. We can also perform in-vitro (blood) testing for specific allergies. Investigations to assess the immune status of children can be done. This includes immunoglobulin levels, T cell subsets, T cell proliferation and Nitroblue tetrazolium test &/or Dihydrorhodamine test.

Like most allergic diseases, treatment is by avoiding triggers and the use of medicines.

How can I avoid environmental triggers?

  • For house-dust mite allergy, wash your beddings (bed sheets, pillowcases, covers) in hot water (60°C) at least once a fortnight. Dust-mite proof covers are also helpful but are more expensive. Minimise the use of carpets and thick curtains. 
  • For pet allergy, removal of the pet. If that cannot be done, ensure that the pet does not go to the bedroom of the patient. 
  • The house should be kept dust-free by damp cleaning. Vacuum only when the allergic patient is not at home, and let the air settle for about 2 hours. 
  • Air-purifiers may be helpful in certain types of allergy only. Consult your doctor for advice.


What medicines are used in allergic rhinitis?

Topical (nasal spray) steroids are often prescribed. These are generally safe and are not to be confused with the oral steroids that athletes abuse. These should be used as prescribed over a period of time and not on an as needed basis.

Anti-histamines are safe and effective, even in very young children. They sometimes need to be taken over a sustained period of time to be effective. Some may cause your child to be sleepy. Consult your doctor about this.

Other medicines such as nasal decongestants, mucolytics (medicines that thin the mucus) and antibiotics are sometimes used.