Is It A Cold, Or Is It Allergies?

Fever is the difference maker

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cold and allergy reactions spring up during springtime, but for parents of young children, how are they to know if their child is developing allergies, or developing a cold?

A child suffering with allergy or cold symptoms will usually have the same symptoms. Parents need to know which to treat; the cold or the allergy.

"Treat allergies with antihistamines, treat colds with time."

Hannah Chow, MD, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System understands that it can be difficult to tell the difference. According to Chow,  the easiest way is to get out the thermometer and check to see if there's a fever. If your child has an elevated temperature, he or she most likely has a virus. Fevers don't occur with allergies.

It is important to properly diagnose the child as the two conditions are treated differently. In allergies, the best way to avoid allergic reactions is to avoid the allergens. If the child is exposed to an allergen, use an antihistamine to treat the reaction. If this doesn't work, seek medical advice from an allergist.

For colds, only time helps. Colds are caused by viruses which aren't helped by antibiotics. The average duration of colds is around 8 days. During this time, a child should get plenty of rest and liquids.

The Study

  • Allergy symptoms: runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing 
  • Cold symptoms: runny noses, eye redness without itching, a fever, coughing
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 28, 2011
Last Updated:
October 11, 2012