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KidsHealth: Is it a Cold or Allergies?

Children seem to go from one illness to the next often making it hard for parents to determine what might be a cold or an allergy.
Children seem to go from one illness to the next often making it hard for parents to determine what might be a cold or an allergy. 

A pediatrician can help you distinguish between the two and better care for our children.

Children spend a lot of time sniffling and sneezing this time of year, making it hard for parents to figure out if it's a cold or an allergy. 

 "Runny noses and sneezing are common to both colds and allergies," notes pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

But there are some distinct differences between the two conditions. 

"Allergies can also have itching.  Itchy or watery eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat and those tend to be hallmarks of allergic reactions," says Dr. Shu. 

You don't see much itching with colds.

But colds have a few symptoms that set them apart from allergies; and one of those is fever.  Children with a cold may develop an elevated  temperature, but that is not the case with allergies.  Youngsters often complain about a sore throat with a cold, something less common with allergies. 

Also colds tend to run their course within a week or 2 weeks whereas allergies can last much longer.   

"If you have a child who has symptoms typically every fall or every spring lasting for more than a couple of weeks.  That's probably an allergy," Dr. Shu notes. 

And if your child's symptoms have you concerned, as always check with your pediatrician. 


(Susan  Hendricks for CNN's Health Minute)

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