How to Tell If Your Child Has Allergies …or just a Cold
Cough, runny nose, those symptoms are usually associated with a cold but it is worth checking before giving your child cough treatments, especially knowing they are not all that innocent.
Those symptoms can also be caused by allergies, especially seasonal allergies such as hay fever. There are easy ways to distinguish a cold from allergies.
The first thing to know is that seasonal allergies for toddlers are rare, it usually does not start before 3-4 years old. Before, it is not impossible very unlikely so it is better to consult a paediatrician if you have a doubt.
A second obvious clue is the time of the year. Colds are more common in autumn or winter while hay fever is caused by pollen and so starts with spring. It can though occur as long as trees keep having pollen and colds can happen at any time if the weather or conditions suit it.
How to tell the difference between allergies and a cold ?
There are different signs that can help you identify if your child is suffering from allergies or from a cold.
- If the symptoms last more than a week or 1 days it is unlikely to be a cold. Hay fever can last for as long as pollen stays in the air.
- If your child has a runny nose with clear mucus instead of thick, yellow or greenish then it is more likely to be allergies.
- If your child is wiping his nose or pushing it up (“The allergic statute”) then if is most likely he has allergies.
- If your child sneezes a lot, it can be a sign of allergy as well.
- If your child has red and itchy eyes, often very watery then it means he has allergies.
- If you child has dark, purple or blue circles under his eyes, what doctors call allergic shiners, then your child has allergies.
- If your child has a dry cough that lasts he may have allergies.
- If he complains about irritations on his skin or if he has a red rash then it is most likely to be allergies.
Your child does not need to experience all these symptoms if he is suffering from allergies. But if you can spot a few of those sings it is unlikely to be a cold.
Some signs are really more specific to allergies than others. For example, allergic shiners even on a baby, are very relevant symptoms although they are often mistaken for a sign of sleep deprivation. On the other hand, if a toddler has an allergy cough it can be harder to be identified as the only sign that it is not due to a cold is that it stays dry.
Are allergies hereditary?
A child can inherit the tendency to be allergic from his parents but it does not mean if the parents have specific allergies, the child will have the same. According to Baby Center, if one parent has hay fever or pet allergies, there is 40 to 50 percent chance that the child will have some allergies as well, but not necessarily the same ones. If both parents have allergies, then the child has 75 to 80 percent chance to develop allergies.
How can you be sure your child has allergies?
Remember it can take several months for a child to develop an allergy and he can be exposed to different allergens as well. The child can suddenly become allergic to a pet you have had for long already, or to pollen he has already been exposed to and that makes it even more confusing to understand that is an allergy. Often, medical tests will be necessary to confirm your child is victim of allergies and to find out what causes this allergy.
After a consultation, your paediatrician may refer you to a NHS or a private allergist who can order blood tests to confirm the allergies and then skin tests to find the cause.
During the tests, your child’s skin will be put in contact with common allergens and if a reaction (often similar to a mosquito bite) appears, it means the child is allergic.
Source: British Society of Immunology
Can you treat your children for allergies?
Children can be treated for allergies if it is really necessary as most antihistamines can be given for children. You can also treat the symptoms, with nasal sprays for example, but be careful with cough syrups are they are not without risks. If treatments do not work, allergy shots can be considered as they are usually very effective to stop the reaction.
Before treating your child for allergies, find a paediatrician in London that can advise you on what to give your child. Do not buy over-the-counter medicines for treating your child’s allergies.
Is there any way to prevent allergies?
During allergy seasons, try to keep your child in the house during dry windy days. When they come home, wash their clothes and make them shower so they are clean of pollen. Vacuum your hope and keep windows closed to avoid pollen and dust to come in the house.
If you have any suspicion may have an allergy, visit an NHS or private paediatrician before making any diagnosis or giving any treatment.