Allergies (also known as Allergic Rhinitis)
Allergies are more common in adults, however they still affect 20% of the younger
generation (peak age for development being 8 – 15 years old). Hayfever (seasonal
allergic rhinitis) just one kind of allergy is most common in the seasons when pollen is
around, being spring and fall. Year round allergies are more common in children and can
be triggered by many stimulants including feathers, dust, animals, pollutants and moulds.
To have an allergy usually requires the child to have a family history with allergies and to
be exposed to the allergen more than once, this is why it is generally an older disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
Watery nasal discharge
Nasal obstruction (often leading to mouth breathing)
Itching of the nose, eyes, palate (back of tongue), and pharynx (back of throat)
Malaise (discomfort, lethargy)
Sore or tearing eyes
If the child is unable to avoid the allergens (such as food, drugs and animals) then it is
recommended that they consult with a doctor for diagnosis and prescription of medication
if required, because some of the medications for allergies are not suitable for children and
have some undesirable side affects.
How to distinguish Allergies from the Common Cold
Allergies occur often and can be seasonal, and generally have no fever. It may be
accompanied by itchy eyes and nose, constant bouts of sneezing and come with ear and
As an allergic reaction is the body’s defences to an allergen, the only prevention (other
than medication prescribed by a doctor) is to remove the allergen.
Seek medical advice
Parents should seek medical advice when they suspect an allergy, the doctor will be able
to target the allergy or identify if it is a related disorder. Identification can make it easier
for the child to avoid the stimulus. Also most allergy medication is not suitable for young
children and alternatives can be discussed with the doctor. Parents should seek
immediate medical advice if the child is having an increased difficulty in breathing.
Hockenberry, M., Wilson, D., Winkelstein, M., & Kline, N. (2003). Wong’s nursing care of
infants and children (7th ed.). St Louis: Mosby.