Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Does my child have allergies or a cold?


Blog contributed by Kathleen Zimmerman, MD,  Pediatrician

Does your child have a constant runny or stuffy nose?  Or have you ever thought, “my child seems to always have a cold”?  It is possible that your child may actually have allergic rhinitis.  Allergic rhinitis is also called “hay fever”, although that name is misleading because there is no fever involved.

Allergic rhinitis is very common.  It affects 1 out of every 5 people in the U.S.  Allergic rhinitis happens when your immune system overreacts to a substance in the environment, such as tree or grass pollen, animal dander, or indoor particles of dust.  This causes a release of histamines in the body.  Histamines produce the typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as:  stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and itching of the eyes, nose, ears, and/or mouth.  Don’t be confused – these symptoms are very similar to what is seen with a cold. However, colds are caused by a virus and should only last 10-14 days.  Allergies can last many weeks to months and tend to occur around certain triggers in the environment or during certain times of the year.


If you are concerned your child may have allergic rhinitis, discuss it with your child’s medical provider.  He or she may recommend a trial of an over the counter medication, such as an antihistamine, which can help block the symptoms discussed above.   Or they may recommend a blood or skin test to determine what, if anything, your child may be allergic to.  Often avoidance of the allergy trigger is the most important step in reducing allergic rhinitis symptoms.


For more information visit primary.pinnaclehealth.org

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