You’ve probably noticed the yellowish pollen dust on your car or maybe your eyes are feeling a bit itchy. It’s official — allergy season has arrived. For kids with allergies, this time of year can be quite uncomfortable with respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing and coughing. Because allergies and viral symptoms can be similar to COVID-19, many parents may be concerned when their child develops sniffles. However, before assuming the symptoms are based on allergies, it’s strongly encouraged to speak with your child’s pediatrician about some key differences and they can determine when COVID-19 testing is needed.
Three things to discuss with the pediatrician
Does your child always have problems this time of the year? Think back to whether your child may have been sneezing, congested or coughing last spring. Also, think about, or have your pediatrician check back to see if your child came in for a visit the same time last year with the same symptoms.
Is your child itchy? Children with allergies are typically rubbing their eyes or noses more, especially during this time of year. It’s important to speak with your pediatrician about all of the symptoms your child is experiencing so that your provider can determine whether a COVID-19 test is needed.
Does your child have a fever? Allergies do not cause fever, but it could be a COVID-19 symptom, along with these other symptoms that can appear 2-14 days after a COVID-19 exposure:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
- Congestion or runny nose
What to do if it’s allergies
If your pediatrician determines your child likely has seasonal allergies, they may recommend starting with over-the-counter antihistamines. Your child’s physician might even suggest starting your child’s medicines regularly before allergy season starts and throughout to help minimize the symptoms.
Whether it’s allergy season, COVID-19 or any other virus making the rounds, it is always a good idea to wash hands frequently. Wearing a mask might also prevent kids from inhaling some of the larger pollen particles that can trigger allergy symptoms. It’s also important to wash cloth masks after each use as the mask might carry pollen particles.
While it may be hard for kids to avoid the outdoors, during allergy seasons it’s often recommended to bathe your child head to toe after going outside to wash away any pollen particles and prevent them from transferring to clean clothes or bedding. Steamy showers and saline sprays can also help relieve some nasal symptoms during allergy season as well.
What to do if it’s COVID-19
If your child has symptoms associated with COVID-19 as noted above, you should call your pediatrician immediately to determine whether a COVID-19 test is needed, and potentially other respiratory illnesses. Learn more about the 5 steps to follow if your child has COVID-19.
For other coronavirus-related questions, visit our COVID-19 online resource center.