Current Environment:

Allergies or Common Cold | Overview

Is my child sick, or is it allergies? This is the time of year when we begin to hear this question frequently. Pediatric Allergist, Dr. Anu Mallapaty, shares the following information about allergies, common colds, treatments, and prevention.

What are the causes: 

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to allergens such as pollen or pet dander. The common cold is caused by a virus.

What are the symptoms: 

Both allergies and colds can present with cough, stuffy nose, runny nose, and sneezing. However, there are some key differences as well. 

  • Cold symptoms can include:
    • Fever
    • Body Aches
    • Symptoms that typically resolve within two weeks
  • Allergy symptoms include:
    • Itchy eyes
    • Symptoms last more than a few weeks
    • Symptoms present at the same time each year
    • Symptoms present in a specific place (like a home with a pet)

Allergy treatments: 

Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays can be effective. In more severe situations, an allergist may also prescribe allergy shots.

Common allergens in your home can include: 

  • Animal dander
  • Mold – can be inside and outside.
  • Dust mite– dust mites are invisible to the naked eye.
  • Pollen – can be brought into the home on clothes, shoes, and pets. 

Preventing common allergens:

  • Encase pillows, mattresses, and box springs in dust-mite-proof covers
  • Clean visible mold
  • Remove items that collect dust, such as knickknacks, shelf decor, and books. 
  • Store children's toys, games, and stuffed animals in plastic bins.
  • Use washable curtains and rugs. 
  • Vacuum weekly with a vacuum cleaner with a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. 

When is it time to see a doctor? 

If you are unsure if your child is experiencing allergies or illness, or if symptoms are not well-controlled, schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor.


While seasonal allergies are irritating, they are common and rarely dangerous. The pediatricians and allergists at BCHP can help your family identify the allergy triggers and devise the best prevention and treatment plan for your child.