Sniffling Kids: Cold Or Childhood Allergies?

Dr. Brian Rotskoff, leading Chicago allergy and asthma expert, explains why your child's back-to-school cold may actually be childhood nasal allergies.

Oct 10, 2012, 13:44 ET from

CHICAGO, Oct. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The good news is that your child's sniffling, sneezing, and congestion may not be contagious. The bad news? Out of control childhood nasal allergies get in the way of healthy sleep and productive school days. As a Chicago allergy, asthma, and immunology specialist, Dr. Brian Rotskoff knows better breathing for children and adults starts with diagnosis.


Back-to-school germs may not be the culprits. Dr. Rotskoff explains, "Kids with allergies are often mistaken for cold-sufferers. Fall brings ragweed, weeds, pollen, and mold allergies and kids are just as likely to suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) as their parents." Allergy skin testing, allergy drops/allergy shots, and asthma medications can all be part of the solution.

Fall allergy symptoms in children include nasal obstruction, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes and nose. "Beyond the stuffiness and sneezing, parents can also spot signs of allergies while children sleep. Restlessness and sleep apnea, mouth breathing, and even clucking sounds caused by an itchy mouth can all be caused by allergies."

Clarity Allergy Center in Chicago helps parents and kids overcome seasonal and environmental allergies. Here's how to tell if your child may be suffering from allergies:

It's Snot A Cold – With colds, runny noses tend to turn green or yellow after a few days; allergies run clear.

Weather Woes - Allergic children often experience worsening symptoms with rainy or windy days when ragweed and pollen counts change.

Face The Facts – Kids with allergies can have dark circles under their eyes (allergic shiners) or a small white line across their nose (nasal crease) from constantly rubbing an itchy nose.

Timing Tips – Allergies linger much longer than colds, but may stop abruptly with the first winter freeze.

Healthy Home – If everyone else in your house is healthy, it may be allergies rather than a contagious cold.

If you suspect your child has seasonal or year-round allergies, Dr. Rotskoff can perform allergy testing to isolate their exact allergen triggers and design a pre-emptive maintenance regimen to stay ahead of symptoms.

"Unfortunately, kids with allergies sometimes suffer a double or even triple whammy. They're much more likely to develop asthma and unless those two chronic problems are under control, when a cold does strike it can really wipe them out," Dr. Rotskoff cautions.

The right diagnosis means the right remedy and there are many safe allergy treatments for kids. Dr. Rotskoff can recommend antihistamines or nasal steroids to reduce allergy symptoms and he is one of few Chicago allergists to offer custom allergy drops. Taken at home each day, allergy drops under the tongue are far more comfortable than weekly allergy shots and can ultimately cure allergies and prevent asthma.

"I'm sensitive to parents' concerns about overmedicating their children. That's why diagnosis is so important. We treat the exact causes of symptoms to ensure the least amount of intervention needed for effectiveness," stresses Dr. Rotskoff. He also says that assuming nasal symptoms are cold related can mean children are over-treated with cold medicine or antibiotics.

Clarity Allergy Center provides Chicago asthma, allergy, and immunology care for adults and children. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Brian Rotskoff by visiting or calling 773-877-3500. Offices in Chicago and Arlington Heights are just a short distance from Lincolnwood, IL, Skokie, IL, Park Ridge, IL, Morton Grove, IL, and Niles, IL, Mount Prospect, IL, Palatine, IL, Elk Grove, IL, Buffalo Grove, IL, Bartlett, IL, Lake Zurich, IL, Schaumburg, IL, and Elgin, IL.