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Spring Allergies or a Cold? Know the difference to provide effective relief for your children

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Even before signs of spring appear, the sniffle-sneeze-sniffle in our house tells me that the seasons are really changing and my love-hate relationship with the season is upon us. On one hand, I enjoy the warmer temperatures coupled by the beauty that starts with crocuses and snowdrops pushing their way up through the snow, turning into blooming tulip trees and cherry blossoms, and the appearance of new baby grass and bright green leaves on trees. On the other, I dislike the misery that the changing seasons and pollen bring because of seasonal allergies!

As a family of seasonal allergy sufferers the beauty of spring is tempered by the coughing, sneezing, drippy noses, and complaints of itchy watery eyes and we’re not alone.According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “If both parents have allergies, their (biological) child has a 75 percent chance of having allergies. If one parent is allergic, or if relatives on one side of the family have allergies, then the child has about a 50 percent chance of developing allergies.”

Wouldn’t you know it? My husband and I both suffer from seasonal allergies (pollen found in trees, grass, flowers, or weeds)and are sensitive to other allergens such as dust, mold, and cat dander.

With allergy symptoms mirroring those of a cold, diagnosing my kids can be tricky. According to, “allergies prompt 17 million doctor visits per year, especially during the spring and fall.” With allergies being the third most common chronic disease among children under the age of 18, it’s not surprising that we commonly mistake allergy symptoms for colds.

Colds are caused by viruses and according to, allergies are a “disease of the immune system that causes an overreaction to substances that usually cause no reaction in non-allergic individuals.” Allergic reactions can happen at certain times of the year and are considered seasonal. They can also occur year-round in some individuals.

Three distinct signs symptoms set allergies apart from colds and says knowing what to look for is helpful in treating symptoms. If symptoms show up as soon as your child is exposed to an allergen, are triggered during changing seasons, and last indefinitely or as long as your child is exposed to a particular allergen, then seek relief from over-the-counter allergy medicine.

Active ingredients in over-the-counter oral medicines work to treat allergy symptoms. Since some over-the-counter oral allergy medicines are available in different dosage strengths, select a product indicated for your child’s age and read the Drug Facts label carefully for appropriate dosing information. Parents with kids under the age of 6 should be especially mindful to read the drug facts label because they should not give their child allergy medication that contains diphenhydramine, cetirizine or chlorpheniramine.

Parents should also be aware that some oral allergy medicines may cause excitability or nervousness and know that it’s never appropriate to use allergy medicines to sedate or make a child sleepy.

Here’s hoping these extra tips and insights help you stave off the Ahhh-choo’s with your little ones and instead leave them bright-eyed and exploring the explosion of the spring season!

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Leticia is the founder of Tech Savvy Mama, a site that assists parents in navigating the ever-changing world of technology. She uses her experience as a former teacher and technology specialist for a large DC Metro area school system to share new technology and educational resources. She has been columnist for, sharing quick technology tips and resources through Tech Savvy Parents, written for Babble, and contributes to Scholastic Parents’ Learning Toolkit. Leticia also consults as a social media strategist, educating brands about the social media space. She can almost always be found online, often on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Skype if she hasn’t unplugged to spend time with her husband, 2 children, and their overly enthusiastic Yellow Labrador.

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