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Difference Between Childhood Allergies and COVID-19 Symptoms

Allergies and COVID-19 Symptoms Can Look Alike: Here's the Key Difference Parents Should Note

Shot of a young girl blowing her nose

If diligently watching your kids for symptoms of the coronavirus wasn't stress-inducing enough, it's also allergy season.

"Now is the time of year when seasonal allergies are on the rise," board-certified pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert told POPSUGAR. "This allergy season is causing more anxiety, however, because some common allergy symptoms overlap with symptoms of COVID-19."

Thus, distinguishing allergies from a viral illness — COVID-19 or otherwise — is critical for optimal management and care of our little ones.

It's Likely a Viral Illness If . . .

Viral symptoms, Burgert pointed out, cause things like the sudden onset of fever, extreme fatigue, aches and pains, cough, decreased eating, vomiting and diarrhoea, and trouble sleeping. "These are all signs of a viral illness, including the novel coronavirus," Burgert said. "Although children with coronavirus are typically experiencing milder symptoms than older individuals, a child with any of these symptoms should trigger a call to your child's doctor for advice."

It's Likely Allergies If . . .

The key difference between allergies and viral illnesses, Burgert said, "is absence of fever and presence of itch." Children with allergies will have itchy or swollen eyes, itching or runny nose, and sneezing. Some will even get a sore throat or cough when pollen counts get high.

"In short, allergy kids look uncomfortable, but they don't appear sick," she said. "To help your child feel better, you should feel comfortable and confident using simple modifications at home and over-the-counter medications."

For her patients, Burgert prefers long-acting antihistamines, like Children's Allegra: "This medication is safe and effective for symptom control, does not cause drowsiness, and lasts through an entire day of outside play. Also, it is available in a variety of forms to ensure accurate and easy dosing for children over the age of 2. Allergy eye drops and nasal sprays can be used with oral antihistamines, if needed. And if you have dosing questions, your child's pediatrician can help."

In addition to routine use of medications, Burgert suggested doing what you can to decrease the amount of irritating pollen that gets into your home. "On days with high pollen counts, leave windows closed and your shoes outside," she said. "Taking a shower or bath after outside play will also decrease the amount of pollen on your child's hair and skin that may cause irritation."

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.

Image Source: Getty / PeopleImages
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