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Recognizing the difference between COVID-19 symptoms and seasonal allergies in your child

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 17:34:52-04

BALTIMORE — We've made our way into allergy season, and with COVID-19 still around us, it's important to remember the difference in symptoms between seasonal allergies and COVID-19, especially in children.

Dr. Theresa T. Nguyen, assistant chairman of pediatrics at GBMC and a pediatrician with GBMC Health Partners-Pediatrics says allergy symptoms for children, as well as adults are very similar.

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There are some overlapping symptoms; dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, occasionally fatigue if you don't treat the allergies. With COVID however, it's very likely you'll have a fever, possibly headaches and body aches or loss of taste or smell.

Dr. Nguyen explains that if you have loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or body aches, it's more than likely you have COVID.

If a parent has a child who may have those overlapping similarities and maybe they're questioning whether their child has COVID or not, Dr. Nguyen recommends speaking with your pediatrician.

Recognizing the difference between COVID-19 symptoms and seasonal allergies
Recognizing the difference between COVID-19 symptoms and seasonal allergies

"One of the first things I asked was have you had these symptoms before? If you have the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes and itching every spring it's seasonal allergies," she said. "But then you might have a child who has not experienced that before and then the parents are wondering, I would refer them to their pediatrician."

The pediatrician will be able to help decide the reason behind their symptoms.

If it's allergies your child is suffering from, the doctor says there are ways to decrease these symptoms!

"You want to close your windows, whether it's in your car or at your house...pollen is shed at the highest rates at night, so having a cool outdoor breeze at night is going to worsen your allergy symptoms," she said.

Washing your hands and face when you come in from the outside is also a key point, because the pollen is on you whether you see it or not. So if you come inside, wash your hands first and then your face so you're not spreading the pollen more.

Keep your shoes to the outdoors, right at the door. Don't track it all through the house and into your bedroom. Dr. Nguyen says she always asks children to wash and bathe before they go into their bedroom, because if their clothes are filled with pollen and they're rolling in your bed, you're then spreading that pollen into your bed sheets.

Overall, it's important to remember that if your child's had symptoms in the spring in the past, it's probably seasonal allergies, and if all else fails? Contact your pediatrician.