Could My Baby Have a Nasal Allergy?

Signs of Nasal Allergies in Babies and Toddlers

Find out if babies can get allergies.

I see many young children, including infants, in my allergy practice for concern of nasal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis. Parents of these children wonder if their baby or toddler could have a nasal allergy at such a young age. Most of these young children have symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing. But is it possible for a baby to have allergic rhinitis at such a young age?

The answer is yes, although it’s not common for a baby to have allergic rhinitis. Allergic disease occurs in different ways at different ages, and for young children, including infants and toddlers, allergies most commonly appear as eczema and food allergies. As a child reaches school age, asthma and allergic rhinitis are more likely to occur –- and interestingly, eczema and food allergies get better or even go away altogether.

Learn more about how to tell if your child has allergies.

What Types of Allergies Do Babies Get?

When an infant or toddler does have nasal allergies, that child would be expected to also have eczema, food allergies or asthma symptoms. Allergic triggers would more likely be pet dander, dust mites, cockroach or mold rather than pollen, since young children generally haven’t been alive long enough to have the repeated pollen exposure that is required for seasonal allergies to occur.

Allergy testing, which is done in much the same way as for older children and adults, is the only way to truly find out if an infant has allergies.

Find out at what age your child should be tested for allergies.

If It’s Not an Allergy, What Else Could It Be?

There are many other processes that can mimic nasal allergies in children, the most likely of which is an upper respiratory tract infection such as the common cold.

Teething can cause an infant or toddler to have a runny nose as well, and may be associated with a low-grade fever. Adenoid hypertrophy is a common cause of chronic nasal congestion in young children, while choanal atresia is less common, usually shows symptoms at birth and is associated with severe breathing problems.

If your child has concerning or ongoing nasal symptoms, see your pediatrician or allergist so a diagnosis and appropriate treatment can be made.

Sources:

Atopic Dermatitis Practice Parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004;93:S1-S21.

Food Allergy Practice Parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;96:S1-68.

Spergel JM. From Atopic Dermatitis to Asthma: The Atopic March. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010;105:99-106.

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