Print    Email
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
    
For Parents
Bookmark and Share

My son has been congested for what seems like months now. He sometimes has a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, too. Could this be allergies?
- Fiona

If the seasons have changed and your son has continued to have allergy symptoms, it's possible that he has perennial (year-round) allergies, or what's called perennial allergic rhinitis. This type of allergy is usually caused by indoor allergens like dust mites, indoor mold, and pet dander or saliva.

The only way to know for sure, though, is to talk with your doctor, who will ask questions about your son's symptoms and when they usually occur (for example, when he's indoors, around pets, or in certain rooms of the house). Based on the answers and a physical exam, the doctor may be able to make a diagnosis. If not, the doctor may refer your son to an allergist for skin testing. Skin tests are quick and usually involve putting a purified form of an allergen either on the skin or underneath it to elicit an allergic reaction.

If your son is diagnosed with an indoor allergy, you'll need to work on reducing his exposure to allergens. Here are some tips:

  • Vacuum regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter or a double-layer bag.
  • To dry out the air, use a dehumidifier (especially in damp areas) or air conditioner, and consider using a HEPA air purifier.
  • For dust mite allergies, remove carpets or rugs from your son's room (hard floor surfaces don't collect dust as much as carpets do), and don't hang heavy drapes or keep other items in the house, like stuffed animals, that collect dust. Special covers can be put on pillows and mattresses to seal out dust. Wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
  • For pet allergies, keep pets out of certain rooms, like your son's bedroom, and minimize contact. If your child is highly allergic, you may need to consider finding another home for your pet.
  • For mold spore allergies, keep your son away from damp areas, such as basements, and keep bathrooms and other mold-prone areas clean and dry. Avoid storing items in damp areas.

If reducing exposure isn't possible or is ineffective, medicines can help ease allergy symptoms. They may include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal spray steroids. If symptoms cannot be managed with medicines, the doctor may recommend taking your child to an allergist or immunologist for regular allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help desensitize him to the allergens.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013

 
Other Related KidsHealth Articles:
A Cold or Allergies: Which Is It?
Find out what the experts have to say.
A to Z: Rhinitis, Allergic
Allergic rhinitis, sometimes called "hay fever" or seasonal allergies, are allergy symptoms that occur during certain times of the year.
All About Allergies
Up to 50 million Americans, including millions of kids, have an allergy. Find out how allergies are diagnosed and how to keep them under control.
Allergies
Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you're sneezing, and you're covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again.
Allergies
Explore more than 20 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of allergies in children.
Allergy Shots
Many kids battle allergies year-round, and some can't control their symptoms with medications. For them, allergy shots (or allergen immunotherapy) can be beneficial.
Allergy Testing
Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests.
Environmental Control Measures
Families of kids with allergies should use environmental control measures that reduce exposure to the child's allergy triggers. Here's how to begin.
Help With Hives
Hives are red, itchy blotches that can can appear because of an allergic reaction. Find out more in this article for kids.
How Do Doctors Test for Allergies?
Find out what the experts have to say.
Learning About Allergies
During an allergic reaction, your body's immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.
Seasonal Allergies (Hay Fever)
At various times of the year, pollen and mold spores trigger the cold-like symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Most kids find relief through reduced exposure to allergens or with medications.
What Makes Me Sneeze?
If you just sneezed, something was probably irritating or tickling the inside of your nose. Learn more about why you sneeze in this article for kids.
Word! Hay Fever
No, hay fever's not when a horse is sick!
Word! Skin Test
If you think that you might have allergies, a special doctor called an allergist can help figure out what you are allergic to by giving you a skin test.
 
Related Resources:
Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AAN-MA)
Through education, advocacy, community outreach, and research, AAN-MA hopes to eliminate suffering and fatalities due to asthma and allergies. AAN-MA offers news, drug recall information, tips, and more for treating allergies and asthma. Call: (800) 878-4403
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
The ACAAI is an organization of allergists-immunologists and health professionals dedicated to quality patient care. Contact them at: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 85 W. Algonquin Road Suite 550 Arlington Heights, IL 60005 (800) 842-7777