Is your child having the sniffles? Fret not! A cold is a common childhood illness and perfectly manageable. However, if your child constantly sneezes and has a runny nose, it could be a symptom of an underlying allergy, such as allergic rhinitis. But how can you tell the difference between the two, especially when they share similar symptoms? Fortunately, by taking note of several tell-tale signs, you can soon learn to differentiate between the two conditions.

Identifying Allergies Vs. Colds In Children

Runny noses, headaches, sneezing, and fatigue can all be symptoms of a cold or allergies. However, the two conditions can be told apart by a discerning eye. Children with allergic rhinitis will often complain of an itching nose, which is not generally a symptom of a cold.

Furthermore, allergies cause itchy, watery eyes, whereas colds do not. So, if your child frequently rubs their nose and has itchy eyes but no fever, it is likely that they are affected by an allergy rather than a cold.

Learn More: What You Need To Know About Paediatric Allergic Rhinitis

Childhood Allergy Management Tips

After observing your child, which condition do their symptoms better match? If it is an allergy, there are various steps to alleviate your child’s symptoms. Let our paediatric ENT specialist, Dr Jenica Yong, share the preventive measures you can take to combat your child’s allergies, thus improving their quality of life.

Tip #1: Identify The Trigger

Woman Holding A Magnifying Glass To Her Eyes

The first step to managing your child’s allergy is identifying its causes. With this knowledge, you can take measures to avoid the allergens that can trigger the symptoms. For example, if your child is allergic to pet fur, the addition of a furry critter to your family might not be a good idea.

Tip #2: Close The Window

A Person Closing A Window At Home

Outdoor allergens, such as pollen, are often a primary cause of allergies like allergic rhinitis. So, while it might be tempting to open the window and let in the cool breeze, avoid doing so since the fresh air could bring pollen in with it.

Additionally, it can be helpful to turn on the air conditioner whenever possible when your child is reacting to outdoor allergens, as it can help circulate the air within the living space. However, ensure you change the filters regularly before they become choked with dust, becoming a breeding ground for another common allergen – dust mites.

Tip #3: Wash Up And Change Your Child’s Clothes

An Asian Child Washing Their Hands At Home

Speaking of bringing outdoor allergens in, they can cling to your clothes, shoes, and bags when outdoors too. Therefore, it is recommended for your child to change their clothes and wash their hands and face whenever they return home. In fact, it is a good idea for the whole family to do the same, as you could all be carriers. Showering or bathing at the end of the day to remove lingering allergens from body surfaces and hair can also be helpful.

Tip #4: Be Thoughtful About Outside Time

Children Playing Outdoors

Keeping your child cooped up inside can be unhealthy but you also want to prevent outdoor allergens from triggering their allergic rhinitis – sounds like a no-win situation, right? Fortunately, by being mindful about their outside time, your child can remain active while keeping allergy symptoms low. For instance, avoid dry and windy days as they can blow pollen and other allergens into the air. Your child should also steer clear of places with lots of plants.

Tip #5: Use Medication The Right Way

A Child Using A Nasal Spray

There are various over-the-counter allergy medications available for children, including antihistamines (use and dose must be determined by a doctor) and nasal sprays. But we tend to consider them only when we have the symptoms rather than taking them when we don’t. However, allergy medications work best when taken consistently.

While you may understandably want to hold off on medications until the symptoms worsen or skip them on a good day, your child’s quality of life might fare better if you get them started at the first sniffle and continue until allergy season is over. We recommend checking with a paediatric ENT specialist as to when you should give your child allergy medicine and when to stop. They can also ensure that there is no underlying cause other than allergies.

By keeping our allergy management strategies in mind, you can help keep your child’s allergy symptoms down. However, if over-the-counter medications combined with our tips do not help sufficiently, do not hesitate to consult our paediatric ENT specialist, Dr Yong. Our ENT doctor can take extra steps to ensure your child’s health and well-being, preventing further complications. Contact our clinic to schedule an appointment today!

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