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Colds
(Upper Respiratory Tract Infections)

When your child has a cold he often has a runny or stuffy nose. He may also have a fever, sore throat, watery/red eyes or cough.

Did you know?

Most Colds are caused by viruses.

Antibiotics do NOT help treat colds.

You can expect a healthy child to get 6 - 10 colds per year.

How long will it last?

The fever usually lasts 2-3 days. The sore throat may last about 5 days. The nasal congestion and discharge (from clear to green) may last 10-14 days and the cough even up to 3 weeks.

Viral illnesses like the common cold are most contagious during the first 2 to 4 days after the start of symptoms.
Treatment

Aches and fevers can be treated with the appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Aspirin should never be given.

Stuffy noses are best treated with nasal saline (salt water) spray/drops. Put 1-3 drops in each nostril. Then have your child blow his nose or use a soft bulb syringe ("booger sucker") to clear the mucus. This works better than any of the decongestants available.

Run a cool mist humidifier in your child's bedroom.

Encourage lots of fluids.

Although there's no proof that chicken soup helps, people have been recommending it for 800 years. Chicken soup contains a mucous-thinning amino acid called cysteine.

1/2 - 1 teaspoon of honey mixed with a little warm water has been shown to help a cough more than most over-the-counter "cough medicines." No honey for children under 1 year.

Nonprescription cough and cold medicines and decongestants should not be given to children under 6 years of age.
Prevention

Good hand-washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the best way to prevent the spread of colds.

Teach your child to cover his mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Germs can travel up to 12 feet when you sneeze!

Avoid bringing young infants in contact with adults or children with colds or to crowded places.
Call the office immediately if:

  • Your child has difficulty breathing.
  • Your child is acting very sick.
Call the office during normal hours if:

  • Your child has fever lasting more than 3 days.
  • The runny nose lasts longer than 14 days.
  • There is persistent eye discharge.
  • There is ear pain for more than 1 day.
  • Your child is not drinking enough fluids.
  • You have any questions or concerns.