For the past week you have wiped your child’s runny nose, then listened to them cough in their sleep, but how do you know if it is a cold or an allergy? Your child has been looking and feeling miserable, and you want to help them feel better, but you are not sure how to categorize their symptoms as a cold or allergies. If this is the case, you are not alone. Many parents become confused about the proper way to treat a coughing, sneezing child, because colds and allergies often have overlapping symptoms. When in doubt, talk to your Woodbridge pediatrician who will know exactly what is causing your child’s symptoms, especially if they are persistent or worsen with time.
Cold and Upper Respiratory Infections
Colds, upper respiratory infection, and URIs are common terms used to describe viral illnesses that cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever, and cough. A fever will typically last for 2-3 days, and the cough with congestion and runny nose may last for 5-10 days. The typical preschool-age child may experience 6-10 colds per year. Most colds resolve on their own with rest and fluids, but some may lead to ear infections, sinus infections, asthma attacks, or other complications.
Caused by viruses, colds can be spread through a sneeze or cough. The virus may also be spread indirectly, through touching the hand of a healthy person, or even by using door handles with your hand you may have just sneezed or coughed into. Once the virus is present and multiplying, your child will develop the familiar symptoms and signs:
*Mild fever, particularly in the evening
*Slightly swollen glands
What are Allergies?
Allergies are reactions that are usually caused by an overactive immune system and typically begin in childhood. These reactions can occur in a variety of organs in the body, resulting in diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema. They are by far the most common chronic diseases among children in the United States, with approximately 50 million Americans experiencing some form of allergies – that’s about 1 in 5 people in this country! The most common type of allergy is hay fever, but many aspects of allergies, eczema and asthma are still not fully understood. However, with advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders, millions of sufferers are finding the help they need to relieve their symptoms.
The causes of allergies are not fully understood, but children get allergies when they come into contact with allergens. Allergens can be inhaled, eaten, injected, or they can come into contact with the skin. Some more common allergens include:
*House dust mites
*Animal dander and salvia
*Chemicals used in industry
*Some foods and medicines
*Venom from insect stings
Although allergies can develop at any age, they most commonly develop during childhood or early adulthood.
If your child has a typical cold without complications, the symptoms should disappear on their own after seven to ten days. Your Edison pediatrician may want to see your child if symptoms do not improve and is not completely recovered within one week from the start of their illness. Contact your pediatrician in Edison for further treatment and to further understand your child’s cold symptoms, or even allergies.