With allergy season approaching, it is key to know the difference between an allergy and a cold. They can present with very similar symptoms, but these differences can help you tell one from the other.
- Allergies do not cause a fever or body aches, unlike a cold or flu.
- Colds usually produce nasal discharge that is greenish and thick, but discharge from an allergy is clear and thin.
- Colds usually last seven to 10 days while allergy symptoms last until an allergen is removed.
- Allergic reactions most likely cause rashes.
We spend about 90 percent of our lives indoors, so it is important that your home be as allergen-free as possible for your child. Here are some at-home remedies to help avoid allergens.
- Make sure your air-conditioner is kept clean and that filters are changed on a regular basis.
- Carpets and upholstered furniture collect dust and dirt. Consider replacing or cleaning them regularly.
- Dust and vacuum often.
- Put a damp cloth over your eyes.
- Check food labels.
- Honey has been found to be a natural remedy for allergies; give one teaspoon a day to children over 1 year old.
- Most importantly, have a good relationship with your pediatrician and allergist.
- How do you know my child has an allergy? How can you confirm the diagnosis?
- Does my child need allergy shots, further allergy testing, or other treatment? Does he or she need to carry an Epi-Pen?
- Which allergy symptoms are serious enough to warrant calling the doctor and scheduling a visit?
- At what point should my child see an allergist in addition to a pediatrician for allergy treatment?
- Is there anything else I should be doing to help control the allergies, such as dusting the house more often or taking other environmental measures?
- If my child is allergic to one thing, how likely is he or she to be allergic to something else?
Here are some school-related precautionary measures parents can take.
- Instill in your child at an early age the importance of avoiding detrimental allergens.
- Pack your child's lunch, so you know what he or she is eating.
- Make sure an Epi-Pen is accessible, if needed.
- Check pollen counts in your area.
- Inform your child's teachers, caregivers, schools, etc., of his or her allergies.
- Create an "allergy card" for the school nurse. The card should include your child's allergy symptoms and triggers, medication information, your contact information and an emergency contact.
Children feed off their parents' behavior, but by not overreacting to your child's allergies, you can help make your child feel less different from his or her peers.
Types of allergies
There are many different types of allergies. Some of the most common are:
Food allergies: cow's milk, peanuts, soybeans, eggs, wheat
Environmental allergies: pollen (hay fever), animal dander, chemicals, mold, dust mites
Contact allergies: detergents, cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning supplies, nature
A few tips for parents
Remember, overreacting and creating a too-sterile environment can be dangerous! We count on some germ exposure to build up our immune systems.
Remember, also, the problem with allergies is that once you have identified the source of an allergy, you may need to follow up with research because it may be necessary to avoid other things as well that are not noticeable to the naked eye. For example, if your child is allergic to milk, other ingredients to avoid are whey and casein. In this case, a parent may want to try a substitute for milk, such as coconut milk or rice milk. Make sure you confirm the allergy with a doctor before making any decisions, and ask him or her to recommend alternative products to use.
Need help finding an allergist, pediatrician or other specialist?
Call St. Luke's Physician Referral Service at 314-205-6060 for personal assistance finding one that meets your needs. Or search the online physician directory at stlukes-stl.com.
St. Luke's Hospital is a regional healthcare provider committed to improving the quality of life for patients and the community. It offers care in more than 60 specialty areas and was the only St. Louis hospital named an America's 50 Best Hospital™ by Healthgrades® in 2007 through 2014 based on quality.
See what's happening at St. Luke's Hospital and pick up a few health and wellness tips for you and your family.
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