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Runny Noses and Coughs – Allergies or a Cold?

Hearing our child cough can sometimes be as painful for us as it is for them – as a Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care, we know. Coughs sound terrible! When a child has a cough and a runny nose at the same time, then you know something is at work in their body that they are having a hard time fighting off.

The combination of a runny nose and a cough usually tells us that our child either has a cold or is suffering from allergies. It can sometimes be difficult to tell.

Difference Between a Cold and Allergies

A cold is caused by one of over 200 different cold viruses. These viruses are contagious and can easily be spread from one person to the next. Once a cold virus enters your child’s body, their immune system kicks into high gear to fight it. This can last up to a couple of weeks. Common symptoms of colds include coughing, runny nose and congestion.

Allergies are caused when our bodies mistake a harmless substance such as dust or pollen for germs. When this happens, our immune systems overreact to try and fight off the substance that it thinks is a germ or virus. Our bodies release chemicals such as histamine the same way they would if they were fighting a cold. This can cause runny noses, coughs and sneezing. Unlike colds, allergies are not contagious. They can also last much longer – up to several months.

How to Prevent Colds and Allergies

The best way to avoid catching a cold is to avoid contact with others who have a cold. A cold virus can be spread through coughing and sneezing as well as touching surfaces that have been touched by those who have a cold. Be sure to wash your hands frequently.

We can avoid allergies by steering clear of substances that we may be allergic to. Common allergens include pollen, mold, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroaches. For the most part, it doesn’t take long to figure out if you have an allergy to one of these substances.

Treatment for Cold and Allergy Symptoms

While there is no specific cure for the cold, you can treat symptoms with over the counter anti-inflammatories, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These can help with fevers, aches, and pains that are often associated with a cold. It is also important to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

For allergy symptoms, you might try an antihistamine, which will work to counter the effects of histamine that is naturally released by the body to fight off what it thinks is a virus. Doctors will sometimes treat allergies with nasal steroids to reduce swelling in the nasal passage. They may also try allergy shots, which helps your body build up a tolerance for an allergen.

AllKids Urgent Care – Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care

Colds and allergies on their own are rarely serious, but they can lead to other problems such as sinus and ear infections. If the symptoms of your child’s cold or allergies continue to become an issue, please come see us at AllKids Urgent Care.

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