Often, allergy symptoms are thought of as sneezing, a runny nose or itchy, watery eyes. But did you know allergies can cause chronic ear, nose and throat symptoms for children? If you're wondering how allergies can target the ear, nose and throat of a child, read on for more information from Boys Town Ear, Nose and Throat Institute.

Children with nasal allergies may often have a history of other allergic tendencies such as eczema or food allergies, and may be at a greater risk for developing asthma. A nasal allergy causes problems associated with sneezing, itching, nasal congestion and drainage.

For younger children younger than 4, allergy symptoms are caused by exposure to allergens including pollen, dust, mold and dander. Observing which time of year or in which environments the symptoms are worse can help a physician identify the specific problems. Below are ear, nose and throat issues that most commonly affect children.

• Ear infections. Children are most likely to have ear infections between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, but in most cases, allergies are not the main cause in children younger than 2. Allergies, however, may play a bigger role in ear infections for older children, building up fluid behind the eardrum or creating problems with uncomfortable ear pressure.

• Sleep disorders. Chronic nasal obstruction is a frequent symptom of seasonal or year-round allergic rhinitis. Nasal congestion can contribute to sleep disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea because the nasal airway is the normal breathing route during sleep. Fatigue is one of the most common signs of an allergic symptom and not only affects a child’s quality of life, but has been shown to affect school performance.

• Pediatric sinusitis. Allergies can sometimes affect children who have persistent or recurrent sinus disease. Some studies suggest adenoids, the tonsil-like tissue in the back of the nose, are more common in children with allergies.

• Sore throats. Allergies may lead to the formation of too much mucus, which can make the nose run or drip down the back of the throat causing postnasal drip, cough and a sore throat.

When should you see a physician?

If your child has chronic ear, nose or throat pain or discomfort, or difficulty sleeping or breathing, contact your child’s physician. Your physician will evaluate your child’s symptoms and review any recurrent allergic or medical conditions. If needed, an allergy test can give you specific information on what your child is allergic to, such as outdoor allergies, dust and pets. If allergies are ruled out, an ear, nose and throat physician can provide medical care and treatment for chronic ear, nose and throat conditions. 

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