Your child is sneezing, coughing and congested. Is it the common cold? Is it seasonal allergies? What is the best way to give them relief from these symptoms?
Allergies and colds often have overlapping symptoms, including a stuffy or runny nose, cough and low energy. It can be difficult for parents to know whether their child is battling a stubborn virus or having an allergic reaction.
Kids with a cold may feel achy and develop a sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and low-grade fever. A cold usually doesn’t last longer than a few days before it starts to improve. Since common colds are viral infections, they can’t be cured with antibiotics. To ease your child’s symptoms or discomfort, make sure your child is getting plenty of fluids and rest.
If your child’s stuffy nose lingers for several days, this may be an indication that they are suffering from allergies and not a cold. In fact, allergy symptoms can last for weeks to months.
Tell-tale signs that your child has allergies and not a cold include:
- Cold-like symptoms linger for more than a few weeks
- Chronic (continual) cough
- Mucous is clear
- Persistent stuffy nose
- Itching of the nose, ears, mouth and/or throat
- Itchy, watery, red eyes
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing and other respiratory symptoms
- Unexplained bouts of diarrhea, abdominal cramps and other intestinal symptoms
In some cases, reducing the triggers that are causing the allergic reaction can control many allergy symptoms. This may include washing your child’s bedding and toys to remove dust and bacteria, bathing pets regularly, vacuuming your home at least once a week and replacing furnace and air filters every few months.
Although common colds and allergies have similar symptoms, there are distinct clues that help parents differentiate one from the other. When in doubt about your child’s symptoms, always contact your pediatrician.