It's not surprising when your child suffers from a runny nose, sneezing, and a frequent cough in the Winter. Exposure to cold weather and germs is a natural part of childhood. However, if you find your child suffering from chronic cold symptoms throughout Winter, it is possible that germs may not be the culprit.

Sneezing, wheezing, and runny noses are easily blamed on allergies during the spring and fall. However, allergies found during the Winter months are often overlooked. Many people suffer from allergies each year, and it is not to be missed that many common triggers are also inside the home. The most common causes of indoor allergies are dust, mold, cockroaches, and pet hair.

During Winter, your child spends more time indoors and as Winter progresses, indoor allergies often get worse. Since Winter illnesses share many of the same symptoms as allergies, it can be difficult to tell the difference.

How Are Allergies Different?

On the surface, allergy and cold symptoms seem very similar. However, there are some key differences. If your child's chronic colds have these symptoms, the culprit may be allergies.

•   There's no fever. Colds, sinus infections, and flu often cause fever for at least one day. If your child always has cold symptoms but never seems to have a fever, the cause may be inside the home or school.

•   The cough is dry. Winter colds often come with plenty of mucus resulting in a wet phlegmy cough; a dry cough is more common with allergies.

•   Symptoms are worse at night or morning. Allergens love to live in soft fabrics often found in the bedroom. Overnight exposure can result in stronger morning symptoms.

•   Mucus is clear. Viruses often make mucus yellow, green, or brownish. Check your child's tissues to see if mucus is clear.

•   No absences. If your child's symptoms don't keep her in bed, allergies may be more likely than a virus. Colds and flu often carry fatigue and body aches that make facing the day difficult.

Tips for Staying On Top Of Indoor Allergy Triggers

Be sure to stay on top of dust mites by vacuuming a minimum of twice a week . It is easy to forget those places that you cannot see (under the bed, the bottom of your cupboard and on top of your photo frames), but these will all accumulate dust so be sure to monitor these areas.  

If you have a pet, make sure that you are maintaining their coats by brushing them regularly and disposing of their excess hair in outside garbage bins.

Pollen is still an issue indoors, so make sure you keep windows and doors closed to minimise pollen to be circulated from outside air being bought inside.