My son has been sneezing for the past few weeks and blows his nose constantly. How can I tell if he has allergies or just a lingering cold?
Seasonal allergies and the common cold can be so much alike that it's sometimes hard to tell the two apart. But look closely and you can find clues as to what's going on.
Ask yourself these questions to sleuth out whether or not your child has allergies:
If you suspect your son has an allergy, the only way to tell exactly what he's allergic to is to get an allergy test. This test can be performed on the skin (where an allergen is placed under the skin to check the body's response) or through a blood test.
If your son does have allergies, the doctor will recommend reducing exposure to the allergen and might also suggest an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription allergy medication to relieve symptoms.
And if you determine that your son has a cold, check with the doctor before giving him OTC cold medicines. There is little-to-no evidence that they work and serious side effects are a risk, especially in younger children. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given to relieve fever or pain.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: April 2011
|American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.|
|American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The ACAAI is an organization of allergists-immunologists and health professionals dedicated to quality patient care. Contact them at: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology|
85 W. Algonquin Road
Suite 550 Arlington Heights, IL 60005
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Word! Allergy Achoo! Many things can trigger allergies, like pollen, certain animals, foods, or a bee sting.|
|Allergy Shots Many kids battle allergies year-round, and some can't control their symptoms with medications. For them, allergy shots (or allergen immunotherapy) can be beneficial.|
|All About Allergies Up to 50 million Americans, including millions of kids, have an allergy. Find out how allergies are diagnosed and how to keep them under control.|
|Seasonal Allergies (Hay Fever) At various times of the year, pollen and mold spores trigger the cold-like symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Most kids find relief through reduced exposure to allergens or with medications.|
|Allergy Testing Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests.|
|What Makes Me Sneeze? If you just sneezed, something was probably irritating or tickling the inside of your nose. Learn more about why you sneeze in this article for kids.|
|Learning About Allergies During an allergic reaction, your body's immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.|
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|Is It a Cold or the Flu? Your child is sent home from school with a sore throat, cough, and high fever - could it be the flu that's been going around? Or is it just a common cold? Find out here!|
|Common Cold With kids getting up to eight colds a year, this contagious viral infection is the most common infectious disease in the United States and the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school.|
|Coping With Colds Most teens get between two and four colds each year. Read this article for the facts on chicken soup, cold medicines, and other ways to feel better.|
|Can Kids Get Allergies All Year? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Chilling Out With Colds Cough, sneeze, snort. Those are the sounds of a cold. Find out more about colds in this article for kids.|
|Why Does My Nose Run? You may have heard the old joke: If your nose is running and your feet smell, you must be upside down! But did you ever wonder why your nose runs?|
|Why Do Eyes Water? What does it mean when your eyes water? It's not the same as crying - or is it?|
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