Common cold or allergy?
A sore throat can be caused by multiple triggers: a cold, a flu-like infection, or allergy symptoms like hay fever. When it comes to differentiating what is what, parents should closely observe their children’s symptoms alongside a sore, itchy, or even painful feeling throat.
Symptoms related to colds AND allergies
- A runny or congested nose
- Sneezing and coughing
Symptoms related to cold and flu-like infections only
- Soreness and muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
Symptoms related to allergies only
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
Duration of symptoms
The duration of symptoms your child is displaying is another important indicator about whether they’re dealing with a cold or flu-like infection or an allergy. Rule of thumb says that a cold or flu-like infection does not persist for longer than two weeks. If your child keeps mentioning a sore throat, it might be an allergy.
Allergy symptoms persist for as long as the patient is exposed to their allergy trigger. Take hay fever as an example: Depending on the season and what kind of pollen your child is reacting to their symptoms can last for several weeks up to two months.
The oral allergy syndrome
If your child was already diagnosed with a pollen allergy, a sore throat might be connected to oral allergy syndrome (OAS), which is also known as pollen fruit syndrome (PFS). OAS can occur in pollen allergy patients when they eat certain foods like raw vegetables and fruit or nuts that contain structurally similar proteins as pollen.
Symptoms related to oral allergy syndrome
- Reddened, swollen lips and mouth
- Itchy mouth cavity
- Itchy, sore throat
- Other seasonal allergy symptoms (e.g., sneezing)
Home remedies & when to see a doctor
Regardless of the cause, the symptoms of a sore throat can be eased with various home remedies, for example:
- Sucking on ice chips or frozen fruit juice (if your child is old enough – beware of possible choking hazards)
- Drinking hot tea with honey
- Gargling with salt water multiple times a day
If home remedies remain completely ineffective even after a few days, do not hesitate to consult your GP. Especially if a child shows other symptoms atypical for a cold (e.g., difficulty breathing or swallowing, drooling, skin rashes), parents should seek professional medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment.