Back to school time also means the start of cold and flu season. This is the time of year when we see those viruses start to spread more. You can expect a healthy child to get 6 – 10 colds per year. Infants in daycare may get even more viral illnesses, up to 15-20 per year!
Most colds (or Upper Respiratory Infections) are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t help shorten or cure colds.
How do I know if my child has a cold?
Symptoms of a cold may include a runny or stuffy nose, fever, sore throat, watery/red eyes and cough. Sometimes kids don’t eat, drink, or sleep as well when they are feeling sick.
How long will it last?
The fever often lasts 2-3 days while 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.
What can I do to treat a cold?
Aches and fevers can be treated with the appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Aspirin should never be given to kids.
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.
Cough and cold medicines and decongestants should not be given to children under 6 years of age.
How do I prevent these cold viruses?
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! Check out this fun video to help kids learn about handwashing.
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.