Does Your Baby Have a Cold or Allergies?

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that begins with intense itching of the face and can include throat swelling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps. The drop in blood pressure can result in mental confusion or dizziness. If you’re worried your child may be experiencing anaphylaxis, seek medical aid immediately.  

How to Treat Allergies 

The key to treating allergies is to avoid the object creating the reaction. Depending on what they’re allergic to, you can help your child manage their symptoms through avoidance. You can give them over-the-counter pills to control their reaction, but discuss this first with your pediatrician. If your baby’s allergy is severe, the doctor might prescribe an epinephrine shot to have on hand in case of emergencies.  

Tips to Tell the Difference 

To help you determine whether your child has a cold or allergies, ask these questions: 

  • Did the symptoms come on abruptly? One sign of allergies is your child’s symptoms come on rapidly and persist for several weeks or as long as exposed to an allergen. Alternatively, cold symptoms come on gradually and typically only last for a week.  
  • Did the seasons change? If you answer yes, your child could have allergies. People experience seasonal allergies during the autumn and spring when the leaves fall or flowers bloom. Individuals react to airborne allergens like pollen or mold spores and experience symptoms like sneezing, congestion or a runny nose.  

Depending on what they’re allergic to, you can help your child manage their symptoms through avoidance.

Due to climate change and warming weather trends, the pollen season is 20 days longer than in 1990. Children are more likely to develop hay fever and asthma attacks because of the increased pollen counts.  

  • Does your child have watery, itchy eyes? If so, they likely have allergies, as this is a common allergen symptom and not experienced with colds.  
  • Does your child have a fever? Your child is likely experiencing a cold. Allergy symptoms never include fever, but colds do. 
  • Is your child experiencing yellow or green nasal discharge? Your child likely has a cold. If your child were experiencing an allergic reaction, they would have a clear runny nose. 

Cold or Allergy? 

It can be hard to tell if your baby is experiencing a cold or an allergic reaction. However, allergies are sudden in onset, last longer than colds and are seasonal. On the other hand, colds can produce fevers and yellow and green nasal discharge. When you look for these signs, you’ll know the difference between these common conditions. 

Jane Marsh is the founder and editor-in-chief of where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life. 

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