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What causes our allergies to flare up?

Allergic rhinitis or "hay fever," is an irritation of the nose where the inside of the nose becomes inflamed after being exposed to an allergic trigger. It often is associated with asthma and sinusitis. Common allergy symptoms: Watery eyes Sneezing Runny nose Itchy eyes and nose Children who have allergic rhinitis also might have dark circles under their eyes. Children may do what is called the allergic salute, which is using the palm of their hand to push the nose up in an attempt to relieve itching. Because both asthma and allergic rhinitis are diseases that affect the airways, controlling rhinitis will help control symptoms in people who also suffer from asthma. What is asthma? Asthma is an ongoing disease that inflames the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma can be hard to diagnose because it can often be mistaken for other respiratory disorders, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Nearly 80 percent of children with asthma do develop symptoms before the age of five. Therefore the child's physician must rely heavily on the parents' observations to determine the signs of asthma and in effect, make a proper diagnosis. What are the symptoms of asthma? Coughing Shortness of breath Wheezing Tightness of the chest Young children tend to complain that their chests hurt or that it feels funny. They also might appear to be easily tired or slow down when playing or may become easily irritated. Asthma also may be triggered by a family history of allergy and the child's exposure to allergens - any substance that can trigger an allergy. Common allergens include dust mites, cockroach droppings, animal dander -which is dead skin flakes and saliva, pollens and molds. Atopic dermatitis Many parents do not realize that atopic dermatitis is part of the allergic profile. In fact, it is often one of the very first signs of allergic diseases in infants and young children. Atopic dermatitis often will start in the first year of life, affecting between nine to 12 percent of the population, most of whom are children. Between 80 and 90 percent of children who have atopic dermatitis will show signs before they reach the age of seven. Often dubbed the itch that rashes, atopic dermatitis is a red, inflamed rash most often seen on the arms, legs, ankles or necks of children. Scratching makes it even worse, with flare ups common in the early evening and at night, sometimes getting to the point of interrupting normal sleep patterns. The good news is that the rash will often improve with age; unfortunately the symptoms of allergic rhinitis or asthma may start appearing.

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