More sniffles around the house lately? Allergies are commonplace this time of year, but so are colds and coughs thanks largely to the germs kids are exposed to when they go back to school. So, how do you tell the difference?
“Usually, it’s difficult at first,” says Jessica Dumais, BSN, MSN, ARNP of CMC’s Willowbend Family Practice. “Colds, though, get worse and can develop with fevers. On the other hand, if symptoms last longer than two weeks, it’s probably allergies. Colds typically clear up at that point.”
Allergies also behave differently from colds, often being most irritating first thing in the morning and late at night. Colds are persistently bad throughout the day.
Making the decision to keep your child out of class or sports because of a suspected cold can be difficult but, says Dumais, “Colds are only contagious the first day or two. As long as your child doesn’t have a fever, they’re OK to participate in their regular activities.
If allergies are affecting your child’s daily function – like keeping them up at night or making it hard to concentrate at school – or if your child develops a fever, it’s time to call the doctor’s office.
Thankfully, colds and allergies, while annoying, are both manageable with over the counter treatments and environmental management. Using an air conditioner, humidifier, antihistamine nasal spray or saline spray, and keeping windows open can all help mitigate seasonal allergies. Brushing animals outside and keeping them out of the bedroom also helps to reduce allergens.