Does My Child Have Allergies?

kid with allergiesYour little one is coughing all through the night. The runny nose is in full swing. But what’s to blame — a cold, allergies or something else?

Childhood allergies are commonly written off as common colds, and that can be problematic. If left undiagnosed, allergies can contribute to other ailments, such as ear infections, so it’s important to catch the problem early.

How can you tell if your child is suffering from allergies or a cold?

A doc will know for sure, but you can get a hint by watching for:

  • Fever — Kids with colds might have a low-grade fever of 100°F or less, but allergies don’t affect the temperature.
  • Nasal Discharge — When wiping your child’s nose, check the color of his or her mucus. Discolored mucus (often yellow or green) points to a cold. Clear, watery discharge often indicates allergies.
  • Duration of Symptoms — Typically, colds run their course in 7 to 10 days. If symptoms last longer, then allergies or another ailment could be to blame.
  • Patterns of Illness —  If your child usually comes down with a cough and runny nose at the same time of year — say, each April — then you might be looking at seasonal allergies. The only time when this rule doesn’t apply is back-to-school season, when children often pass around respiratory infections and other bugs.

Allergies can run in the family, so that’s yet another clue. No child is born with allergies, though, and most immune sensitivities develop after two to three seasons of allergen exposure.

From our own Dr. Robert Pincus:

“For children over the age of five, we often use an antihistamine nose spray, to lessen the need for any oral medication.”

Talking with a doctor is key if your child seems to be constantly dealing with ear, sinus or throat infections. Often, when these issues come up multiple times, inhalant allergies (to things like pollen, ragweed, dust or animal dander) can be the underlying issue.

And as for treatment? That’s for you and your doctor to decide, but common routes include oral antihistamines and special types of immunotherapy, in which children are exposed to allergens at low doses by injection or by drops under the tongue to decrease sensitivity.

Talk with your doctor early on if you suspect your kid has allergies — or another related ailment. If symptoms seem to linger and linger, another possibility is that your child might have asthma, sinus infections or non-allergic rhinitis (excess mucus production). Undiagnosed asthma can become serious, so you’ll want to address the symptoms with your doc.

It can be tricky to tell what’s making your child feel rundown, but we’re here when you need it. Give us a call anytime, and we’ll help you start looking for relief.

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