Does My Child Have Allergies
Allergies happen when the body perceives certain substances as threats, and the immune system responds by producing antibodies and histamine. This prompts an inflammatory response that causes telltale allergy symptoms. Common outdoor allergy triggers include pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds. Indoor allergies might be caused by pet dander, dust mites, and mold, explains Sanjeev Jain, M.D., a board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy.
Allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose with clear, thin mucus
- Itching, red, watery eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
Cold Vs Allergy In Children: How To Tell The Difference
Colds are infections of the upper respiratory tract . They are caused by several different viruses. They are spread by:
Touching a person with a cold
Touching an object that someone with a cold has touched
Breathing the virus in the air after someone with a cold has coughed or sneezed into the air
Seasonal allergies are caused by the immune system reacting to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds as if it were harmful to the body. This reaction causes symptoms that can seem like a cold. Allergies often run in families. Seasonal allergies occur at the same time each year. If your child has allergy symptoms all year, they may be allergic to things in the home. These can include dust mites, animals, mold, and cockroaches.
The table below is a guide to symptoms. See your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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MIS-C, short for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, is a condition that has the potential of causing very severe illnesses in children later on. Snyder notes that this condition is one that is unique to COVID-19, and to look out for it as it is not something that doctors and medical experts see very frequently in other illnesses.
Dr. Flor Munoz, associate professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Texas Childrens Hospital, recommends that children get tested if they demonstrate any sort of COVID-19 symptoms. Getting tested is critical especially because it is difficult to tell the differences between RSV, the flu and COVID-19.”
The long-term effects of the coronavirus among children are still being explored. The coronavirus vaccine is not yet available for children under the age of 12, though emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11 is expected in the coming days.
The flu and the coronavirus share many symptoms. Below is a list of the hallmark COVID-19 symptoms specifically in children.
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Treating The Common Cold
Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since antibiotics only kill bacteria, they wont work on the viruses that cause colds. Still, there are medications that can help relieve your symptoms while a cold runs its course.
Cold remedies include:
Cough syrups and OTC medications arent recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays arent recommended for children under age 6.
Ask your doctor before taking any OTC cold medication, especially if you also take prescription medications, have any existing health conditions, or are pregnant.
Dont use cold medications for a long period of time. Using them for extended periods can cause side effects such as rebound congestion.
You can also try home treatments to relieve a cold, such as:
- drinking more fluids like water, juice, and herbal tea
Decongestants come in pills and nasal sprays. However, nasal decongestants such as oxymetazoline can make your congestion worse if you use them for more than three days in a row.
Diagnosing Colds And Allergies
You dont need to see your doctor for a cold, but if you do make an appointment, your symptoms will likely be enough for them to confirm your diagnosis.
For allergies, you may need to see a primary care doctor, an ear-nose-throat doctor, or an allergist. The doctor will first ask about your symptoms. Severe or life-threatening allergic reactions often require the care of an allergy specialist.
A variety of tests can be used to diagnose allergies. A skin test can be used to determine your allergy triggers. Sometimes primary doctors or allergy specialists may also use blood tests to diagnose allergies depending on your age and other health conditions.
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Keep Your Asthma In Check
While difficulty breathing and shortness of breath have been symptoms associated with COVID-19, it can also be signs of asthma that can flare up with the allergy season. If you dont have a fever present with these symptoms, asthma could be the culprit.
People with asthma need to stay on top of their treatment, says Dr. Benninger, especially since people with respiratory issues are at a higher risk of potentially severe illness from coronavirus. Whether its inhalers or nasal sprays, its important to be up to date on their medication and proper usage.
Dr. Benninger also recommends starting allergy medications early in the allergy season rather than waiting for the worst part.
If you can prevent the symptoms from worsening, then youre much more likely to have less difficulty when you get to the time of the season when allergies tend to get out of control, he says.
About Author: Nisha Chandran Md
Dr. Nisha Chandran, pediatrician with OSF Medical Group in Rockford, Illinois, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. After finishing medical school in India, she specialized in pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Chandran remained at the University of Illinois Hospital and Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital as Chief Resident in the Pediatrics Department.
In her free time, Dr. Chandran likes spending time with her two young boys, being outdoors, keeping active and reading.
This author is no longer writing for this blog.
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What’s The Difference Between A Cold And Allergies
When exposed to certain particles such as animal dander, pollen, trees and grasses children may have an allergic response. This occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens, triggering the release of histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream.
This response causes common allergy symptoms, including:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Fever, in some cases
What Are Common Triggers For Spring And Summer Allergies
Getting outside and enjoying the warmer weather is one of the few things families can do during this time of social distancing. However, the warming weather and blooming of plants can trigger allergies. Here are the top three spring and summer allergy triggers:
Allergy symptoms often look similar to those of the common cold. These allergy symptoms include:
- Sneezing and itching.
- Watery eyes.
Are you worried your childs allergies may be more severe than just allergies? With COVID-19 happening, its natural to worry know the difference between the two. Read more: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
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Schedule A Telehealth Visit
Most BCHP pediatricians are now seeing patients remotely using telehealth visits to assess symptoms. In some cases, your child may need to go get a flu or strep test to rule out these other illnesses. COVID-19 tests are still limited, so your pediatrician will advise you on whether your child needs testing. BCHP physicians can also prescribe allergy medications remotely.
Learn more about our telehealth visits.
When And How Often Should I Make Sure My Child Is Tested For Covid
It depends on several factors: what your school requires, how prevalent Covid-19 is in your area, and the ease and speed with which you can get tested.
If your child has a fever combined with other symptoms of Covid-19 like a cough, runny nose or abdominal pain, then you should call your pediatrician and discuss the possibility of getting tested. The tests do help guide policymakers in figuring out how safe it is for schools to remain open.
A negative test will provide some peace of mind. If the test is positive, then you will need to alert your childs school immediately and plan to keep your child at home and isolate her from others for at least 10 days, according to the latest C.D.C. guidelines.
If the test is readily available in your area and you can get the results back quickly meaning in a day or so then it might make sense to test your child even if the symptoms are mild and there is no fever.
The overarching advice is that you just have to err on the side of caution much more readily in cities and places where the infection rate is high, Dr. Cheung said.
If a test comes back negative, then your child can most likely return to school quickly. Some schools may even require that you get the test.
If your child is asymptomatic and was recently exposed to someone with Covid-19, Dr. Fisher said, its best to wait about five days after being exposed before getting the test because the virus may still be incubating in the body.
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Allergy Symptoms Vs Covid Symptoms: The Key Differences
The coronavirus has caused a constant stream of worry in allergy sufferers. They wonder about every ache and pain in their body: Is sneezing a symptom of COVID-19? Is sore throat a symptom of COVID-19? How about a runny nose?
Thankfully, as the pandemic has progressed, experts have learned more about COVID-19 in children. They found that coronavirus symptoms are increasingly distinct from the typical symptoms of seasonal allergies, says Dr. Burgert. Here are some key differences between allergies and COVID-19.
Allergies dont come with a fever or body aches.
Fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, but allergies rarely produce a rise in body temperature. Along those lines, allergy sufferers dont usually have body aches, chills, or extreme fatigue.
COVID-19 doesnt cause sneezing.
Is your child sneezing up a storm? Theyre likely suffering from allergies. Sneezing has not been identified as a common symptom of COVID-19.
Allergy symptoms are dominated by itching.
Seasonal allergies are dominated by itch, says Dr. Burgert. Itchiness of the eyes, nose, or throat usually points to an allergic reaction.
Allergies improve with antihistaminesbut COVID-19 does not.
If you have allergy symptoms, they’ll likely improve with antihistamines like Zyrtec, Allegra, or Claritin. Steroids, nasal sprays, and eye drops might also relieve symptoms. Antihistamines are unlikely to be effective against COVID-19, says Dr. Jain.
What Time Of Year Is It
In the spring, pollens from trees and flowers are everywhere. If your child is sneezing, wheezing and dripping, blame the pollens.
In the summer, mold and insect bites can also trigger allergic reactions. The hot months are also marked by âfood pollen syndrome.â Thatâs when fruits and vegetables carry allergens that can set off symptoms in your mouth.
Also, if your child is having symptoms at different times of the day, “itâs consistent with allergies,â McMorris says. âI always try to relate it to what kids are doing.â
Say your little one wakes up congested, for instance — they may be reacting to dust mites, dander from the family dog or cat, or indoor molds. If they donât want to eat for a few hours after waking up, it may be allergy-related nasal drainage dampening their appetite. If the itchy eyes and sneeziness tend to come on when they are at soccer practice in the morning, keep in mind that that’s when plants tend to pollinate.
When itâs winter time and your childâs eyes are fine, though, it’s more likely that a virus is to blame for their symptoms, McMorris says. Still, youâll need to ask your pediatrician to find out for sure. You may also need a referral to a doctor who specializes in allergies.
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When To Call A Doctor:
If you notice that your child has any skin discoloration or has shown any kind of respiratory troubles including, though not limited to, difficulty breathing or wheezing, Torres asks that you notify a doctor right away, as severe cases of RSV can further develop into bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
If your child has a mild case, it is important to remain hydrated, clear any nasal congestion and continue monitoring for more severe symptoms.
When To Call Doctor:
If your child has been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for the virus, it is important to notify their doctor. If your child has tested positive for COVID-19, Snyder recommends that they remain isolated for the entire quarantine period, as specified by the CDC, and follow health department and CDC guidelines and policies.
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Allergies And Ear Infections
Unfortunately, allergies can also set kids up for ear infections. Here are the steps you should take if you suspect your child may have an ear infection:
They Get Ear Infections
While ear infections aren’t a direct symptom of allergies, allergies do lead to inflammation of the middle ear, which can then lead to an ear infection, explained the Allergy, Asthma, And Sinus Center. Not only is that unpleasant for your toddler â an infection causes that feeling you get when you need to pop your ears â but it also decreases their ability to hear, and that can in turn affect the development of their speaking skills.”Middle ear infections, called otitis media or OM, occur commonly in early childhood and are a frequent reason for antibiotic treatment and missed school days,” explained the Allergy, Asthma, and Sinus Center. “Allergies are a well recognized cause for recurrent OM and kids who have more than their share of middle ear infections should be allergy tested.”
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Ways To Manage Seasonal Allergies At Home
- Have your child wear a hat and sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting in their eyes.
- Remove your childs clothes as soon as they come indoors and wash them to remove allergens.
- Leave shoes at the door so your family doesnt track allergens through your home.
- Wash your childs hands and face as soon as they come in from the outdoors.
Rsv Could Be Dangerous To Young Children Doctors Warn
Munoz told TODAY that the problem is that you have young infants being at greater risk, because they are going to be having more problems with lower respiratory tract.
In other words, babies can be at greater risk when contracting RSV because it is more likely for them to develop bronchiolitis which is caused by the virus causing inflammation and narrowing of the airways, Munoz said.
There are no current vaccines to prevent the spread of RSV. Experts say that the most effective ways to prevent any further spread of the virus is to wash hands frequently, disinfect all toys and avoid crowds to the best of your ability. Munoz also recommends parents prevent other adults from kissing their children .
The best way to prevent getting RSV is really to do what you normally would do to prevent other respiratory viruses, which is hand-washing,” said Munoz.
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Listening To The Symptoms
Right now many people are anxious and concerned with COVID-19 being so widespread, Dr. Siegel says. But I tell parents that while the symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 can be similar, there are some concrete ways to tell which one their child is experiencing so they will know how to treat it.
Here are several differences that can be important clues:
- An illness like COVID-19 causes a system-wide response, while an allergy, which is an overreaction of the immune system in response to exposure to a trigger, is usually more localized. For instance, a child with a flu or COVID-19 may have a fever, body aches, chills, a sore throat, weakness, and respiratory symptoms. Someone with allergies will be more likely to have the symptoms centered on the nose, eyes, and throat, and they usually wont have a fever.
- Allergies cause itchiness: itchy eyes, itchy nose and sneezing, and a tickle in the throat, she says. Itchiness is usually not a symptom of illness.
- COVID-19 doesnt seem to cause much in the way of nasal symptoms, Dr. Siegel says. That means if your child is sneezing a lot, its more likely allergies, a cold, the flu, or another illness that isnt related to COVID-19.
- Children with allergies may also have asthma, which can cause wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. While many people with COVID-19 also have a cough and chest tightness or difficulty breathing, most of the time this isnt accompanied by wheezing, Dr. Siegel says.
Allergy Medicine Wont Help With Symptoms Of Rsv Or Other Viral Infections
If you think your child has allergies and give him or her allergy medicine and it has little effect on his or her symptoms within 12 to 24 hours, your child might have a viral infection.
An antihistamine that you can get over the counter should do really well for allergies but likely would have very little effect on infection, Dr. Kim says. So if you have a kid whos got a lot of those symptoms like a really bad runny nose and cough, and Zyrtec and Benadryl arent touching it, it may be because its not allergiesits an infection.
If your child has cold-like symptoms and youre not sure what it is, your childs doctor can help you figure it out. Dont send your child to school or other social settings until youre sure its just allergies.
If your child isnt feeling well, talk to your pediatrician or find one near you.
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