Allergic rhinitis (AR), the most common chronic disease in childhood is often ignored, misdiagnosed and/or mistreated. Undertreated AR impairs quality of life, exacerbates asthma and is a major factor in asthma development. It can involve the nose itself, as well as the organs connected with the nose manifesting a variety of symptoms. Evidence-based guidelines for AR therapy improve disease control. Recently, paediatric AR guidelines have been published by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and are available online, as are a patient care pathway for children with AR and asthma from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Management involves diagnosis, followed by avoidance of relevant allergens, with additional pharmacotherapy needed for most sufferers. This ranges, according to severity, from saline sprays, through non-sedating antihistamines, oral or topical, with minimally bioavailable intranasal corticosteroids for moderate/severe disease, possibly plus additional antihistamine or antileukotriene. The concept of rhinitis control is emerging, but there is no universally accepted definition. Where pharmacotherapy fails, allergen-specific immunotherapy, which is uniquely able to alter long-term disease outcomes, should be considered. The subcutaneous form (subcutaneous immunotherapy) in children has been underused because of concerns regarding safety and acceptability of injections. Sublingual immunotherapy is both efficacious and safe for grass pollen allergy. Further studies on other allergens in children are needed. Patient, carer and practitioner education into AR and its treatment are a vital part of management.
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