When a Cold is Not a Cold

allergiesSpring fever is spiking in our home.  The last few weeks have been beset with sniffles, sneezes, sore throats and some serious sinus issues.

For a long time I thought the aforementioned symptoms were related to the common cold, but a recent trip to the doctor proved otherwise.  The next time you are tempted to self diagnose your child’s runny nose and congestion, consider the other conditions he could be suffering from:

Allergies:  Frequent sneezing and itchy, watery eyes, especially during the spring months can be a sign of allergies.  March and April are notorious for having high pollen and mold counts, though other environmental stimulants can cause a child to suffer as well.  According to doctors, most kids do not develop seasonal allergies until they are at least two years old.  However, if you notice that your toddler’s cold-like symptoms are exacerbated when you are outdoors, notify your doctor.  Also, if you observe your preschooler suffering with symptoms of allergies, don’t self medicate with over-the-counter antihistamines. While these popular products may provide relief, young children could get dangerously drowsy.

Dirty House:  Common house dust can cause respiratory issues that can be mistaken as a cold.  Even more alarming is the fact that some dust can be toxic.  Studies show house dust is a major source of children’s exposure to toxic substances including lead, which can damage kids’ developing brains.  To reduce exposure, vacuum your home at least every other day or dust with a damp cloth twice a week.  In addition, take off your shoes upon entering your home.  This will minimize the amount of dirt and potentially harmful toxins tracked into your house.  Finally, consider spring cleaning.  By decluttering your living spaces and storing items in closed containers, you can help reduce the amount of dust that builds up in your home.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.