With the change of seasons come the inevitable seasonal allergies and it is important to know how to appropriately treat your child. Especially during the spring and fall there are allergens that can sometimes be hard to navigate and treat, but knowing the difference between allergies and the common cold is a great start to an appropriate treatment plan and a healthier body.
What’s the Difference?
Both allergies and a cold can cause a runny nose and watery or red eyes, but it’s helpful to know what the differences are.
Allergies – When allergies cause a runny nose, we typically see clear mucus as well as clear discharge from the eyes. Allergic conjunctivitis usually starts in both eyes, where they are red and may produce clear discharge. The inner lining of the lower eyelid may also show “cobblestoning” a bumpy pattern of the mucous membranes.
The common Cold – With the common cold you may also see a runny nose and often runny eyes, but the discharge will be thick and yellow, or discolored rather than clear. Bacterial conjunctivitis will typically start in only one eye and the whites of the eyes become very red and angry looking.
Help Without Medications
There are a lot of things you can do to help with allergies. When your child comes in from playing outside, be sure to wash off thoroughly. This helps to clear out those mucus membranes and clear out the allergies that have collected on their skin. Use a large cup to pour water over their heads at bath time. It’s a quick and easy way to keep them clean and free of allergens. This works for the older kids as well. Taking a warm shower to rinse off after coming in from playing outdoors is a great way to clear not only the skin but the nasal passageway as well. Obviously avoiding allergens when possible is beneficial.
Some great over-the-counter medicines to use are Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec. These are antihistamines and can help with general allergy symptoms. Sometimes that’s all that is needed. However, for red or runny eyes, one can add over-the-counter allergy eye drops. Drops like Zaditor are great and are safe for both adults and children.
If the worst symptom one is suffering is a stuffy nose, Flonase or Nasocort nasal sprays are easy to use, and, while it may feel uncomfortable for a second, it will help open the nasal passages and make breathing easier. An adult can help kids do this by squirting the medicine into the nostril and the child will instinctively sniff when the spray goes into the nose.
If allergy symptoms are severe and the over the counter medicines are not clearing the symptoms, your physician may prescribe a medicine. We often prescribe Singulair, a mast cell stabilizer. The mast cells cause a lot of inflammation during allergy season and when Singulair is used, it helps calm down that reaction.
Parents often ask about allergy shots and referrals. If a patient has ongoing symptoms and the above medications or a simple cleaning routine doesn’t help, even with the addition of Singulair, this would be a time to think about seeing a specialist. Sometimes symptoms improve when giving allergy shots on a routine basis.
The providers at Tiger Pediatrics are excited to relieve your child’s allergy symptoms. As the seasons begin to change, try some of these techniques, and don’t hesitate to give us a call. Anyone is welcome to call our front desk at 573-777-7627 and schedule the care that they and their child needs.