Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sniffles and Sneezes

By: Jenn Ripepi, MD, The Choosy Pediatrician 

It's a beautiful summer day and someone has a runny nose. How can that be? Is it a cold? Is it allergies? It is hard to know what to do about those sniffles and sneezes sometimes. Let me just give you a few little tips when wiping those runny noses.

  • Viruses are the usual culprits for runny noses: They are also associated with low-grade fevers, cough, and the general blahs we get with the common cold. We can catch them any time of the year and you will typically have more than one family member with symptoms around the same time. We pick up these "bugs" from others who have been ill and they can be on surfaces in public areas. 
    • Tip to steer clear of viruses: Hand washing is the best way to try to prevent these illnesses any time of the year. Check out the Choosy Kids song ‘My Hands Need Washed’ to help with hand washing!
    • Don't forget to cover a cough or sneeze, get rest, and drink fluids while you have a cold. If your children are active and pretty much their typical selves when they have a cold, it's a good sign they're doing fine and no need for any other treatment. For worsening or persistent symptoms then perhaps a call or visit to your healthcare provider is warranted. 
  • Unfortunately, your body may be allergic: Allergies are sometimes a bit of a challenge to figure out but the good news is that most are mild annoyances and self limited. Some are easy to detect. If you walk into a room where there is a pet and suddenly sneeze and have itchy, watery eyes when starting to pet the animal, you are likely displaying allergy symptoms. Most allergies from environmental causes make our bodies release histamine and other chemicals. These most often cause an itching reaction such as itchy, watery eyes and/or nose, hives on our skin or a scratchy throat. Many people sneeze a lot when they have allergy flares.  A tendency to allergies may be inherited, though family members may be allergic to different things or have varying severity of their symptoms. A seasonal pattern tends to occur with "hayfever" and so noting when the symptoms occur may help to solve the puzzle. If the symptoms include fever or difficulty breathing, especially if the onset is sudden and severe, professional care is urgently warranted. For mild symptoms, avoiding the cause if you know it is helpful. For more specific treatments I recommend you talk to you healthcare provider.
  • It’s just in the air: Sometimes our runny noses may be caused by the environment but not necessarily be allergies. When they air is very dry and dusty, our bodies need to keep our noses moist and clean. So then we may have the need to sneeze, have watery noses or mild congestion, maybe some coughs and even watery eyes. Sometimes we have very low humidity inside our homes, especially in winter. Do you ever walk around shocking each other or having staticky hair? Well that dry air will cause our noses to make more mucus and secrete moisture. During this time, we really don't feel sick, we just have a stuffy nose. Humidifier and vaporizers can help as well as drinking lots of fluids.

Keeping runny noses under control may be challenging but most often it's minor. A part of childhood. In fact, the American Sign Language sign for ‘kids’ is a nose wipe!

Do your children tend to have cold symptoms more in the summer months than the winter months? How old were your children when you discovered an allergy? Share your stories so other parents can relate their situations. 


About the Author: I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. My husband and I have been privileged to raise 4 bright and healthy children. I have tried to gather wisdom from the families I have been blessed to meet during my journey. I believe in practical and flexible parenting to help raise healthy adults. I love to garden, hike, travel and cook and I am looking forward to hearing from Choosy followers.

19 comments :

  1. This post makes me think of my recent trip to take care of my niece. I came home with some kind of bug and was sick with a cold for a week. Little people and their germs.

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    1. Little people tend to be physically closer to others which makes it a bit more likely we"ll share some germs. Hand washing is key!

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  2. Flu is common no matter what season, it really depends on how the child reacts to the weather. Fortunately, we have a lot of remedies, even homemade ones to ease the irritation.

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  3. This is good advice to keep in mind. My kids' allergy symptoms were very similar to their cold symptoms.

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  4. Summer colds are definitely the worst but so far we've had a pretty healthy summer and I'm praying it stays that way. For some reason, our allergies didn't bother us as much this year and I wonder why (but I'm grateful nonetheless). There's a lot of good information here about viruses and allergies. They definitely tend to mimic each other!

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    1. Hope the rest of your summer stays a healthy one, too!

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  5. Allergies run in my family. Some of us outgrew it, but not my eldest son. He's got allergic rhinitis so bad that when he wakes up in the morning, he has a sneezing fit and puffy eyes. Thankfully, my grandchildren were spared. They do not show signs of allergy. Love the tip of frequent hand-washing. It is something I taught my kids very early on in life.

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  6. This is a nice post. I am so worried every time my son gets ill.

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    1. I know it may be difficult, but try not to worry and enjoy the good while you have it! And remember that following lots of Choosy's advice will help to prevent illnesses.

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  7. It is so hard to deal with allergies especially with kids. Nice post!

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  8. I hate to see my son suffer from runny nose. It is something that I am not used to, it is really important to know the source.

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  9. I get colds far too often and I have begun using a lot of vitamin C which has seemed to help!

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    1. A good diet with lots of fruits and veggies has lots of vitamins naturally. I would suggest a discussion with a child's healthcare provider before using higher than typically recommended doses of any vitamin or herbal supplements.

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  10. My kids suffer from runny rose in the winter. My kids eat plenty of veggies and fruits, don't know what went wrong with their bodies

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  11. Such a great tips, I don't want my two boys to be sick

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  12. I get a runny nose if I go into a/c and I haven't been in it for awhile. Even worse if it's hot outside. So weird.

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  13. This is really on point. My kids suffer from runny nose but not that often. Thanks for the tips!

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  14. Allergies suck! Me and my son have them and they can definitely be a bummer.

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  15. My daughter usually has the sniffles during rainy days. I let her drink lots of fluid and take Vitamin C

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