How to Tell the Difference Between Summer Colds and Summer Allergies in Kids


kids playing underneath the summer sun

There’s never a good time for kids to feel sick, but having summer colds or allergy symptoms seem downright unfair. Many parents associate colds with the winter and allergies with the spring season; however, both conditions can occur at any time of the year. Since the symptoms of both colds and allergies can be similar, it is easy to mistake one condition for the other.

This article will describe the differences between summer colds and summer allergies in kids to help parents make the distinction and choose the right treatment. Most of the time, over-the-counter treatments, and home remedies can help kids get back on their feet again to enjoy the warmth and the sunshine.

Summer Colds in Kids

Colds are caused by viruses, and there are different virus strains present in the summer versus the winter. Summer colds are rarer than winter colds, but they are usually nothing to be overly concerned about unless symptoms last for more than two weeks or are accompanied by high fevers. Tell-tale signs of summer colds caused by bacteria or a virus rather than an allergy include discolored mucus, body aches, headaches, and fever.

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Summer Allergies in Kids

The most prominent causes of summer allergies are grasses and weeds. More specifically, the problematic weeds are ragweed, pigweed, cockle weed, sagebrush, and tumbleweed. And allergy-causing grasses include blue grasses, orchard, red top, sweet vernal, and Bermuda.

Since allergies are commonly triggered by indoor or outdoor environments, they tend to get worse with a physical location change. Tell-tale signs of allergies are itchy and watery eyes.

Shared Symptoms of Summer Colds and Allergies

It can be very difficult to determine if a child has summer colds or seasonal allergies because of how the symptoms of both conditions mirror each other. This is especially true if the child has not suffered from allergies in the past.

The common symptoms felt by kids include a runny nose, stuffy nose, congestion, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, and headaches. These symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on what caused the sickness and the child’s reaction to it. Summer colds usually go away within a week to ten days, while allergies often persist for longer periods of time.

Treatments for Summer Colds and Allergies 

The good news is that since many of the symptoms of summer colds and allergies are similar, the treatment options are similar as well. Over-the-counter decongestants, saline sprays, pain relievers, cough drops, throat lozenges, hydration, and rest are recommended treatments for various types of kids’ summer sicknesses. Meanwhile, eye drops and antihistamines can help with kids’ allergies. PediaCare’s Multi-Symptom Cold is recommended for kids ages six to 11 because its active ingredients contain a fever reducer, pain reliever, antihistamine, cough suppressant, and nasal decongestant.

If hot tea and warm soup don’t sound very appealing on a hot summer day, parents can give their kids ice tea with honey or try using a sinus rinse instead. It may also help to place a humidifier to cleanse the air of a child’s room without adding heat and also to increase the child’s vitamin C intake with citrus fruits and low-sugar juices.

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