Cincinnati Children's Blog

How to Tell the Difference Between Seasonal Allergies and a Cold

Runny, stuffy or itchy noses, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, and headaches are common symptoms of both seasonal allergies and colds. Dr. Michelle Lierl, a pediatric allergist at Cincinnati Children’s, reveals two telltale signs to help parents recognize the difference.

“Watch how they rub their nose. Children suffering from seasonal allergies tend to rub it in an upward motion. They also complain about a scratchy throat or itchy eyes, and have sneezing fits. Kids with a cold do not,” says Lierl.

The color of the nasal discharge is another big clue. Allergy patients usually have clear watery mucus, while patients with colds have thick, yellowish-green mucus.

Parents can help reduce seasonal allergy irritation by:

• Giving their child the prescribed allergy medicine daily.
• Keeping windows at home and in the car closed when pollen and fungal spore counts are high.
• Changing air conditioner and furnace filters monthly.
• Making sure kids wash their face, hands and hair after being outside.
• Washing clothing frequently to get rid of lingering pollutants.
• Minimizing early morning outdoor activity when pollen counts tend to be higher.

This article originally appeared on

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