Allergy

Updated 15 February 2016

Does your child have an allergy or a cold?

Parents can't always tell whether kids have a cold or an allergy, but paying close attention to minor details may help.

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It can be difficult for parents to tell whether their child has a cold or hay fever, but there are ways to distinguish between the two, experts say.

Attention to minor details

"Runny, stuffy or itchy noses, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, and headaches can all be symptoms of both allergies and colds, but when parents pay close attention to minor details they will be able to tell the difference," Dr. Michelle Lierl, a paediatric allergist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, said in a hospital news release.

"Children who have springtime or fall allergies have much more itching of their noses; they often have fits of sneezing and usually rub their noses in an upward motion," Lierl explained.

Read: What are allergies?

"They also complain about an itchy, scratchy throat or itchy eyes, whereas with a cold, they don't."

Nasal discharge is usually clear if someone has allergies and yellowish if someone has a cold, she added.

Tips for seasonal allergies

If children have seasonal allergies, Lierl offers the following tips to help ease symptoms:

  • Keep home and car windows closed and change air conditioner filters every month.
  • Have children wash their face, hands and hair after they've been outside. It's also a good idea to flush their eyes and ears with a non-prescription saline solution.
  • Remove clothing. After kids have been outside, they should change their clothes. The clothing should be washed to remove pollen and other allergens.
  • Limit children's outdoor activity in the early morning, when pollen counts are higher.
  • Make sure children are taking their allergy medicine daily during pollen season.

Read More:

Smog with pollen may mean even more sneezing

Gluten: allergy, intolerance or hypochondria?

Could a dishwasher increase your child's allergy risk?

Image: Little girl blowing her nose from Shutterstock

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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies. obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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