Mom’s advice: is that runny nose a cold or allergies?


Spring is here and so is allergy season!  Cold and flu season also still has West Michigan in a stronghold  so it’s tough as a parent to know if that runny rose is from a cold or from seasonal allergies.

My son, now seven, was diagnosed with asthma and allergies when he was just 18 months old.  I was devestated by that news and we continue to struggle through the seasonal challenges.  I have learned a lot along the way and like to help share my experiences to help others. 

**Here’s some advice to share, but of course, consult your doctor or visit an allergist for a diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms of a cold

-A fever is a good indictor your child probably has a cold or virus.  Allergies do not cause a fever.

-Evaluate if other kids or families members have been sick and possibly passed a cold or virus their way.

-How long has it been going on? A cold may last up to two weeks and then go away.

-Runny rose that is yellow/green or thick.

Symptoms of allergies

-Sudden onset of symptoms after returning from outside.

-Symptoms may include, itching eyes, watery eyes, clear runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing.

-Symptoms that just won’t go away.

What to do next

The first thing I’d suggest is you suspect your child may be suffering from seasonal allergies is make an appointment with your child’s primary care doctor.  They will be able to either help you manage the symptoms or refer you to an allergist.  You can also do allergy testing to find out exactly what is triggering your symptoms.  This is done through skin testing or a blood test.

There are many treatments for allergies.  Some are simple over the counter remedies for kids and adults such as daily medications like Claratin or Zyrtec.  These often serve as a daily preventative during allergy season.  Some children, like my son, who also suffer from asthma may need to be prescribed an inhalor and an action plan.  If the symptoms are particularly bad for your child another treatment option to discuss with your allergist is allergy shots. This is a process that will help desensitize a person to the things they are allergic too through a series of shots.  While that sounds scary, I’ve been super impressed with how my 7-year-old has handled it and the wonderful impact it has made on his quality of life.  These are all just things to understand and consider when dealing with children’s allergies.

Mom’s best tips for managing seasonal allergies

Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years that help during the spring allergy season that you can try!

1. When your child goes outside to play make sure they wear a hat.  This can help protect their face from falling pollen that could flare them up.

2. When you get in from outside play have your child either wash their hands/face, change their clothes or take a quick shower.  This will help wash the pollen away that could continue to flare them up.

3. If approved by your doctor start a daily dose of a kids OTC like Claritin during allergy season.

4. Close the windows! If the pollen count is high keep your child inside and shut the windows.

5. Download an app or check your local Storm Team 8 forecast to see what the pollen count is before you head outside to play.

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About Carly Munoz

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