Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cold and Flu versus Allergy

The weather can't seem to make up it's mind. One day it is winter, the next we have spring temperatures sure to confuse the spring garden as well as the seasonal bugs that lurk. Everywhere you turn, someone is coughing, sneezing, or wiping a runny nose. How do you tell if your child has a runny nose from an illness or from spring allergies? When is it time to seek the advice of your family physician?

Colds usually come with a sore throat, sneezing, runny nose with clear secretions, and a child who for the most part feels okay. Your child might nap more or  have little appetite for solid foods but most often just has a constantly runny nose. Some children run a slight temperature but a simple cold doesn't usually bring on a high fever. The symptoms clear up in 2-4 days.

Flu symptoms or bacterial infections may bring on more severe symptoms. Fevers may last for 2-4 days, children may be whiney, have no appetite, and nasal secretions may be thicker or greenish. If your child is pulling at their ears or if the fever does not go down with Tylenol or Motrin, then it might be a good idea to get them checked out. Antibiotics might be in order.

Allergies may also cause a clear snotty nose in children but allergies might also cause your child to have dark circles under their eyes. Your child's eyes might be reddened and watery or they may have a stuffy nose without secretions.  Your family doctor might suggest the use of an antihistamine to help relieve the symptoms temporarily.

The single best way to prevent the spread of the cold or flu virus and bacteria is hand washing. If you can't wash with soap and water, the use of hand sanitizer is the next best thing. And keep tissues handy. Teach  children to cough into their elbow or sleeve rather than into the open air.

Never take internet or other sources of information over what your  doctor recommends for your child. If you have any concerns about dosing of over the counter medications or what might be causing your child's symptoms, don't hesitate to have your child evaluated by a medical professional.

In the mean time, keep the tissues handy until we can open the windows and enjoy some fresh spring air.

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