Diagnosis

Parents often are able to diagnose hay fever. While a common cold or upper respiratory infection can be confused with allergic rhinitis, parents should suspect rhinitis if the child has irritated eyes and no fever. Food allergies can also cause rhinitis symptoms in 70 percent of infants and young children, but with food allergies there are often other symptoms of skin or stomach irritation as well. A careful history usually reveals the seasonal nature of the complaint and the suspected role of seasonal allergens. Physical examination usually reveals puffy, reddened watery eyes, a red throat, and nostrils filled with clear watery mucus.

To determine what allergens an individual is allergic to, children may take a skin test in which they are exposed to various substances, such as pet dander, dust mites, or mold.

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