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What Causes Nasal Allergies in Children?

Kids tend to be allergic to the same things that adults are, like dust mites, pet dander, mold, and pollen. Some children also have allergies to foods, like cow's milk, that can sometimes cause nasal symptoms.

The fragrances in household products like cleaners, shampoos, detergents, and soaps an also be a problem. They may contain allergens as well as chemical irritants that worsen symptoms.

What increases the odds of allergies in kids? Some of it is genetic. "If a parent has allergies or eczema, that substantially increases the odds that their kids might have allergies too," says Ogden.

Will your child outgrow her allergies? Ogden says that many kids do outgrow early food allergies. The long view is different with allergic rhinitis, however. "The nasal symptoms might wax and wane over the years," says Ogden, "but the allergy itself tends to stick around."

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.

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