Now is the time of year where it seems kids are constantly sniffling or coughing. With cold and fall allergy seasons in full swing, how can you tell if your child is suffering from allergies or a cold? The information below can help you decode your child’s symptoms.
Fall allergens such as ragweed, mold and dust mites can trigger the following symptoms:
- Runny nose with clear, watery discharge
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
Typically, these symptoms come on rather suddenly, and can last weeks, or even months. To treat allergies, the first step is to remove or limit exposure to the allergen. Closing windows, staying indoors or washing hands and changing clothes after playing outside can all be helpful. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants or nasal spray steroids may also help alleviate symptoms. Talk with your child’s doctor to develop a treatment plan works best for him or her.
A cold typically presents with the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Coughing with mucus
- Stuffy nose
- Minor aches/pains
- Possible mild fever
Cold symptoms usually start a couple of days before they become full blown and typically last around one to two weeks before getting better. While there isn’t a cure for the common cold, there are ways to help alleviate symptoms. Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can relieve headaches or fevers. If your child is older than three, cough drops can help with a sore throat. Remember to have your child rest when he or she does not feel well. It is also important to keep him or her hydrated with water, decaffeinated tea or 100 percent fruit juice.
Regardless of whether your child may have a cold or allergy, call his or her doctor immediately if symptoms get worse and include shortness of breath, a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts more than one day, chest pain, extreme lethargy, or if your child is unable to keep fluids down.
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