My 3-year-old wakes up every morning with a stuffy nose. She’s completely healthy otherwise and it eventually subsides. Is she too young for allergies?

We don’t generally see seasonal allergies (allergies to pollen) develop until kids are closer to 5 years of age. In the Washington, D.C. area, pollens are only out for short periods of time each year, so it usually takes several seasons of exposure before allergies develop.

We do see allergies develop at a younger age to more year-round allergens, such as dust mites or animal dander. While nasal congestion can certainly be a symptom of allergies, we usually also see things like sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose and itchy or watery eyes.

In your daughter’s case, I do not think allergy testing is indicated at this time and would recommend trying either a nasal saline spray or over-the-counter Flonase before bedtime to see if this helps with the morning congestion.


Lisa Hiers Lisa Hiers, MSN, APRN, NP-C, AE-C, is a board-certified nurse practitioner in the Allergy and Immunology Division at Children’s National Hospital.

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Posts from Lisa Hiers, MSN, APRN, NP-C, AE-C