Does Your Child Have a Cold or Allergies: Recognizing the Symptoms
As mothers, we’re always concerned about the well-being of our children. Are they complaining of a headache? Feeling dizzy? Grumbling stomach? Naturally, our minds always race to the worst possible situation. We get it. We do it too.
Symptoms of a cold and allergies are very similar. Runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes: it can be easy to confuse the two. If your child experiences these symptoms often, keep reading to know if it is just a cold or if they’re suffering from allergies.
What Time of Year Is It?
If the seasons have recently transitioned, you’ve got a big tell-tale sign that allergies are the culprit! Seasonal allergies tend to come at the same time annually. If every year when the leaves begin to fall your child starts to get congested, this may be a sign of allergies. Likewise for when snow begins to thaw and flowers begin to bloom. Symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose are big indicators that the body is breathing in airborne allergens.
On the other hand, colds occur at any time, in any environment. Although most common during the wintertime, colds are caused by viruses that can occur whenever.
How Did the Symptoms Come Up?
Allergy symptoms tend to arrive suddenly and stay for a longer period of time. They will stick around for as long as you continue to expose yourself to the allergen. This can take months. On the contrary, cold symptoms often creep up gradually and typically last around 7 to 10 days.
What’s Causing the Suffering?
If your child has itchy, watery eyes, then he or she may be dealing with allergies. Oftentimes, allergens cause the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that surrounds the inner eyelids and eyeballs, to inflame. As a result, the eyes tend to water and itch.
A fever is a clear indication of a cold. Allergies never bring a fever, although a more severe cold can. If your child is blowing their nose and a yellowish-green discharge appears, they probably have a cold. Allergy symptoms typically result in a clear, thin discharge.
How to Treat a Cold
Between school, sports and extracurricular activities, colds are one of the easiest illnesses for children to catch. If you think your child has a cold, check in with your doctor before giving them over the counter cold medicines. A better, more effective alternative can be ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which can help to reduce both pain and fever. Humidifiers and vaporizers are great drug-free treatments that can help your congested child sleep better by moistening the air. A saline (or salt water) nose spray, or netti pot can also help to loosen the mucus accompanied by a cold.
How to Treat Allergies
As a mindful mama, it’s important to know the signs and take action. If you think your child has allergies, contact your pediatrician. The only way to determine exactly what your child is allergic to is with an allergy test. However, you can track down the culprit by limiting your child’s exposure to animals, smoke, pollen, dust, soaps, mold and foods. Trust us, this will help! If you have recently given them a new food, used a new soap or introduced a new pet, these may be causing the allergy symptoms.
If your doctor determines that your child indeed has allergies, they will recommend removing the source (if possible). They may also recommend using over the counter or prescription medications to help alleviate symptoms.
When you think you’ve got it all figured out, remember: allergies that linger and stop up your sinuses can turn into colds. That’s a situation no one wants to deal with, especially a child! Interested in learning more about this stuff? Head over to our Health and Wellness section at Real Mom Daily!