Especially during the springtime, children are prone to coughing and sneezing. How can parents know if a cold or allergies are to blame? Although the two ailments have similar symptoms, the remedies for each can differ.
Key facts about colds
When a child gets what’s known as the common cold, a virus is to blame. These infections occur when the virus is transmitted from one person to another through sneezing and coughing. Most of the time, colds will go away within 7-10 days. Even though the name implies that these viruses are only caught during the winter months, people can come down with a cold at any time of year.
What to know about allergies
There are many different types of allergies. Allergies occur when a person’s immune system doesn’t react well to a particular substance. For example, seasonal allergies, or allergies to pollen, are prevalent. Other common triggers can include dust mites, animal dander, mold, or certain foods.
What are the similarities?
Allergies and colds can show up similarly. Both will cause congestion, sneezing, coughing, and possibly a sore throat. Additionally, children who have allergies may be more prone to catching the common cold.
How can I tell the difference?
One symptom difference between the two ailments is that allergies can cause rashes and itchy, watery eyes. The common cold typically does not. Conversely, colds are more likely to be accompanied by fever, fatigue, and body aches than allergies. Additionally, when a child has a cold, symptoms will last for a few days in a row, and then the child will get better. When allergies are to blame, symptoms come on because of exposure to a specific allergen.
Treatment for colds
Unfortunately, no medication will get rid of a cold. However, some treatment options can help to manage symptoms until a person’s body gets rid of the cold. Drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough rest, and using a humidifier can all help improve a cold. For children under 4, over-the-counter pain relievers made for children can be beneficial. Older children may also take some over-the-counter cold medications and cough syrups.
Treatment for allergies
One of the crucial parts of a treatment plan for allergies is identifying and avoiding triggers. If avoiding the allergen is not possible, a doctor may prescribe antihistamines or decongestants to reduce allergy symptoms. For some patients, allergy shots may work well to eliminate allergies long-term.
When to see a doctor
If a child is coughing, sneezing, or experiencing other uncomfortable symptoms for longer than 10 days, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. A family medicine provider can provide a diagnosis and treatment options to help the child get back to feeling well.