The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is not uncommon for young children to have five to ten colds a year. Younger children may get more colds than older children because they haven’t developed a resistance to cold viruses yet.
What causes the common cold?
The common cold is caused by any one of more than two hundred viruses, the most common of which is the rhinovirus. The common cold is spread through contact with the fluids from an infected person when he or she sneezes, coughs, or talks. Your child can also get a cold from touching something someone with a cold has handled, like a toy, towel, or utensil.
You are more likely to catch a common cold if you are; tired, emotionally or physically stressed, don’t have a healthy diet or you live/work in a crowded environment.
Is the common cold serious?
The common cold is usually not serious and generally goes away in about ten days. Complications of the common cold may include:
- Ear infections
- Wheezing in children with asthma
- Strep throat
Can I prevent the common cold?
Yes. Wash your hands! Teach kids to use hand sanitiser when soap and water is not available. It’s also a good idea to teach kids to sneeze or cough into their sleeve or into a tissue that they throw away immediately. Kids are infectious for about a day before symptoms appear and for about five days after symptoms begin.
How do I know if my child has the common cold?
Most colds don’t come with a fever, especially if your child is over the age of three. If your child has a cold, she might have a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, watery eyes, and she will probably feel generally miserable.
How do I treat the common cold?
Most children recover quickly from a cold with little or no treatment. You can use over-the-counter medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen to ease the symptoms of a cold. Although there is no scientific evidence that the whole feed a cold/starve a fever adage works against colds, making sure that your child gets fluids and hot soups can help relieve the symptoms of a cold even if they do nothing for the virus itself. Getting plenty of rest is important.
Should I call the doctor?
Make an appointment to see the doctor if your child develops any of the complications listed above. Call the doctor right away if your child has a fever of 39.5°C or higher, vomiting or abdominal pain, ear pain, trouble breathing, continued cough or crying, severe headache, or unusual sleepiness.
You need to know about the common cold
- There are more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold, but the rhinovirus is the most common cause.
- Most colds go away in a week to ten days and don’t include a fever.
- Teach kids to wash their hands frequently to avoid getting colds.