Living Well

Does my child have a cold or allergies?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether your child is dealing with the common cold or allergies. How can you know? Here are 4 ways to find out on the blog!

With the arrival of a new season comes its own share of health challenges, especially when those pollen counts begin to soar. If you haven't tested your child for seasonal allergies, why not do that this season? Sensitivity to environmental triggers could emerge at any point during adolescence. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell whether you're dealing with the common cold or a direct response to seasonal allergies.

Here are a few ways to know if it's a cold or allergies:

Duration of symptoms

One of the tell-tale signs of allergies is that they will persist for weeks on end. The common cold which typically clears up in 1-2 weeks with rest and treatment. As long as your child is exposed to indoor/outdoor areas with allergy triggers, he/she will continue to experience symptoms throughout the season, so this is a clear indication that a cold is not the culprit.

Nasal discharge color

In the event that your child has contracted a virus, the color of his/her mucous is an important warning sign that can let you know what your child is suffering from. During a cold, mucous becomes thicker, as well as taking on a green or yellow hue, while those suffering nasal congestion from allergies will have clear, thinner mucous. However, it's important to note that sinus infections can sometimes be caused by allergies and will change mucous color to yellow, so be mindful of this when making a diagnosis.

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Fever/Muscle Aches

Allergies can bring about many of the most common cold symptoms, but others only arise in the presence of a virus. A fever and body aches are normal immune system responses, as well as clear signs that the body is fighting an infection and is actively producing antibodies to stave it off. These bodily functions do not occur as a result of allergies.

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Indoor/Outdoor Symptoms

Last but not least, if you find that your child tends to experience watery eyes, a runny nose or sneezing more often outdoors than at home, this is a clear sign that the allergens present in the environment are triggering his/her symptoms. Endeavor to keep your home as allergen-free as possible by removing clothing at the door, cleaning often and encouraging your child to shower frequently to remove any allergens still present on his/her skin and hair.

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Treat spring eye allergies with an FSA

There are several ways to treat spring eye allergies with your FSA and reduce itchy symptoms. Learn more in this blog post.

While people often associate allergy season with coughing and sneezing, allergy symptoms can also show up in red, itchy, watery eyes. And, there's good news: these symptoms can be treated, and you can use a Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, in the process.

Though allergies can be seasonal (especially in spring with higher pollen counts), they don't necessarily have to be seasonal, if eyes are sensitive to other environmental factors. But, there are several ways to treat eye allergies with your FSA and reduce itchy symptoms.

Here are a few tips from WebMD, "Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores). If you go out, wearing eyeglasses or bigsunglasses can help block pollen from your eyes. Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner."

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In addition to that, WebMD recommends keeping a clean home and cleaning floors with a wet mop. "Sweeping tends to stir up rather than get rid of allergens. Especially if a pet shares the house with you, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens, with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Go with blinds instead of curtains."

Alternatively, you can tryrinsing eyes out with saline solution or eye lubricants.

And, finally, WebMD also urges people to fight the urge to rub or itch their eyes, as that could intensify allergy symptoms. The WebMD experts recommend using cool compresses for relief.

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If these at-home remedies don't work, you can also try prescription medications to fight allergy symptoms.

Take oral histamines like Zyrtec or Claritin to treat symptoms and get relief

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Finally, if your allergies persist or worsen, it could be best to check in with your doctor. You could use an FSA to cover the deductible, or co-pay for the visit.

Learn about additional eligible expenses via the FSA Eligibility List