Mara P. Paradis, M.D.
Stuffy nose, congestion, sneezes…how can you tell if your child has allergies or if it’s just a cold?
Allergies and the common cold can have many similar symptoms, including runny nose, watery eyes, cough and congestion, so it can be difficult for parents to know whether their child is having an allergic reaction or is battling a virus.
A cold is a virus that must run its course. Over-the-counter medications, approved by your child’s physician, may help with some symptoms, but the cold will generally stick around for 7-10 days. Allergies, on the other hand, will continue as long as the child is in contact with the substance causing the allergic reaction.
If your child has one or more of the above symptoms, it is possible your child has allergies. Common allergens include food, medications, pet dander, mold, dust and pollen. Depending on the type of allergy, your child may experience respiratory symptoms, skin irritations or digestive problems. Nasal allergies can make your child more susceptible to ear and sinus infections and act as a trigger for asthma.
If parents cannot determine the source of the allergy, an allergist can perform a battery of skin tests to determine the offending allergens. It is important for parents to remember that one’s sensitivity to an allergen can change with time.
If your child does have an allergy, your physician will discuss how you can decrease your child’s exposure to the allergen. Boys Town Pediatrics offers the following tips to reduce allergens in your home:
If your child seems to be suffering from cold symptoms that just do not seem to go away, contact your child’s physician.