Common colds are the main reasons for children missing school and visiting the doctor. Colds usually begin with a sore throat and runny nose, then progress to include coughing and a variety of possible symptoms. Dr. Paul Irra at Naples Pediatrics in Naples, Florida, encourages parents to call anytime they have a question about their child’s cold because they can give you guidance about when it’s time to schedule an appointment for medical attention.
The common cold is a very contagious disease that occurs when the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs — the upper respiratory system — develop a viral infection. More than 200 different viruses cause colds, but the rhinovirus is the most common.
Most children get about six to eight colds every year, although children who attend day care are likely to get more. The good news for parents is that colds occur less frequently after the age of six.
Cold season runs from late August or early September to March or April. Children are more likely to get the common cold when it’s cold outside for two reasons. First, they spend more time indoors, so they’re close to other children who spread the virus. Second, lower humidity during cooler weather dries out nasal passages, which makes them vulnerable to infection.
Most parents are all too familiar with the symptoms of the common cold, but they might not know that infants can have different symptoms from older children. Additionally, the symptoms for older children are more diverse and will vary in each child.
There aren’t any medications to cure cold-causing viruses, so treatment is given to relieve congestion, such as using saline drops and humidifiers, increasing fluid intake, and avoiding secondhand smoke.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen can relieve a child’s headaches or body aches. However, just remember never to give aspirin to a child with a fever.
While you should contact us anytime you have a question about the health of your child, here are some guidelines for when to call about a cold:
Infants three months or younger: Contact us because young infants are at a higher risk for complications like pneumonia.
Older children: Contact us if an older child has ear pain, a persistent cough, noisy breathing, or difficulty breathing. Contact us if they appear overly tired, or their lips or nails turn blue.