Allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, which is caused by an allergen, refers to nose and eye allergies 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. Incidence of eye and nose allergies in children, are increasing around the world especially in developed countries. The prevalence of allergic rhino-conjunctivitis in Singaporean children up to 2 years old is estimated to be as high as 42%.
Most allergies are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as:
Firstly, there is no such thing as a “normal blocked nose” and this symptom is often ignored/untreated. Children with allergic rhino-conjunctivitis are also 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 (from back flow of nasal mucus which irritates the throat, also known as post-nasal drip) 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 by itself does not cause asthma to develop later on. Allergic rhino-conjunctivitis and asthma can and often do co-exist, hence it is not surprising that a child with allergic rhino-conjunctivitis may be diagnosed with asthma.
Your child’s doctor will be able to clinically diagnose a case of allergic rhino-conjunctivitis via the taking of medical history and physical examination. They can also test for allergens that cause allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, for example, skin prick testing for allergens such as house dust mites, animal danders, moulds, pollen etc. Blood tests can also be done.
Correct allergic rhino-conjunctivitis or allergic rhinitis treatment is crucial, and will increase the chance of your child outgrowing it, while non-treatment can lead to persistence of symptoms into adulthood and the risk of developing complications such as sinus problems, migraine, ear infections and sleep disturbances. Allergic rhino-conjunctivitis or allergic rhinitis treatment consists of a number of interventions, including:
Remember! Always consult your child’s doctor for a proper diagnosis before administering medications.
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