Common Question among Mothers: Is it allergies or a cold?

A common cold and seasonal allergies can confuse any mother. The symptoms are very similar making it very hard to tell them apart from each other. However, if you educate yourself and pay close attention to the symptoms the child is showing you will be able to detect if what he or she has is a cold or allergies.  Once you know you can take action.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when the symptoms begin:

1.      Has there any season change or climate transition?

- If the answer is yes, then it could be allergies.  Allergy season did not get the name by coincidence.  Season allergies come around every year around the same time. The symptoms your child might be experiencing if he or she has allergies are: runny nose, congestion and intense or moderate sneezing. All these symptoms are due to the body’s reaction when we breathe in allergens living in the air.

- If you child has a cold, it really does not matter what time of the year it is or if there are any changes in the seasons or in the weather.  Nevertheless, colds are a lot more common during winter.

2.      Did the symptoms begin all of a sudden or progressively?

- If you answer yes to this one then you are probably dealing with allergies. Symptoms that begin suddenly and last a long time are commonly related to the child has been exposed to an allergen.

- When the child has a cold the symptoms gradually and progressively begin to appear.  It also takes 7 to 10 days to get over them. But once they are gone, they are gone.

3.      Does your child have itchy, scratchy, watery eyes?

- If indeed your child has these symptoms then it is likely that allergies are the answer.  When an allergen kicks in, the conjunctiva of the eye suffers an inflammation, triggering the uncomfortable feelings.

4.      Does your child have a fever?

-A cold is very likely to give your child a fever. Allergy symptoms will never come along with a fever. So if there’s a fever, you are dealing with a cold.

5.      What is the color of their nasal discharge?

-If the discharge is green or yellowish then it could be a cold. When your child is suffering from allergies the discharge will be clear and thin, almost like water. 

If you determine that your child might be suffering from allergies analyze if he has been close to animals, allergens in food, soaps, intense smells, dust, pollen and other possible triggers.  The pediatrician will ask you all these possibilities so be prepared.  The cause of the allergies must be identified and removed as soon as possible to prevent any further complications from allergies.

If you determine that what your son or daughter has is a cold, make sure you consult with the doctor before giving them any over the counter medication.  Cold medication can be very dangerous when given without doctor’s orders.  Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can be used to control fever and pain.   A humidifier can also be of great assistance to help with the symptoms.

Saline nose sprays for congested noses will help both during allergies and colds.