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Rhinitis in Children: Care Instructions


Rhinitis is swelling and irritation in the nose. Allergies and infections are often the cause. Your child's nose may run or feel stuffy. Other symptoms are itchy and sore eyes, ears, throat, and mouth.

If allergies are the cause, your doctor may do tests to find out what your child is allergic to. You may be able to stop symptoms if your child avoids the things that cause them. Your doctor may suggest or prescribe medicine to ease the symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your child's rhinitis is caused by allergies, try to find out what sets off (triggers) their symptoms. Take steps to avoid these triggers.
    • Avoid yard work near your child. This can stir up both pollen and mould.
    • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house.
    • Do not use aerosol sprays, cleaning products, or perfumes around your child or in your house.
    • If pollen is one of your child's triggers, close your house and car windows during blooming season.
    • Clean your house often to control dust.
    • Keep pets outside.
  • If your doctor recommends over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms, give them to your child exactly as directed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your child's nasal passages open and wash out mucus and allergens. You can buy saline nose sprays at a grocery store or drugstore. Or you can make your own at home by adding 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of non-iodized salt and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of baking soda to 2 cups (500 millilitres) of distilled or boiled and cooled water. If you make your own, fill a squeeze bottle with the solution, gently insert the tip into your child's nostril, and have them lean over the sink. Gently squirt the solution into the nose, making sure their mouth is open. Repeat on the other side.
  • For infants, put a drop or two of the saline solution in one nostril. Using a soft rubber suction bulb, squeeze air out of the bulb and gently place the tip of the bulb inside the baby's nose. Relax your hand to suck the mucus from the nose. Repeat in the other nostril.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is having trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Mucus from their nose gets thicker (like pus) or has new blood in it.
  • Your child has new or worse symptoms.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.