How to tell if you have symptoms of allergies or a cold

Published: Mar. 25, 2011 at 8:33 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM EDT
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With spring in full swing there is plenty of pollen in the air and doctors at Cincinnati Children's say they are already seeing more patients with running, stuffy and itchy noses.

Trisha Creed and her son Spencer drove all the way from Connersville, Indiana to meet with allergy specialist Dr. Karl von Tiehl.

"At mornings when he would wake up, he would be really snotty and coughing all the time so we wondered what was going on," says Creed.

But like many parents sometimes it can be difficult to tell it is a runny nose from pollen or from an oncoming cold.

"The major difference in terms of their symptoms, for a nasal allergy and eye allergies are going to be itch, colds and flu's won't make your eyes itch," says Dr. von Tiehl.

For Spencer his mom can tell it is more than allergies when the symptoms stick around even after his treatments.

"It's usually relieved with his medicine or with extra allergy medicine, if it keeps hanging on without the allergy medicine I know it's a cold," says Creed.

"Colds will usually last 7-10 days and then go of its own free will whereas with allergies you can be ill for seasons at a time if it's grass pollen or tree pollen like it is right now," says Dr. von Tiehl

Dr. von Tiehl says sometimes kids can have both a nasal virus and allergies which is why if in doubt it is best to bring them in.

"They're just coming in little hot messes and we're just trying to clean them up best we can and we're usually pretty good at doing that here," says Dr. von Tiehl.