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?
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:
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
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