Health Information Library
Kids can get eight
colds a year — or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness. Most colds are caused by a specific type of virus found in the air and on the things we touch. The prescription for the common cold is simple: time, rest, and TLC. Signs and Symptoms
stuffy or runny nose (may start out watery, then turn thick yellow or green)
itchy or sore throat
fever feeling tired
loss of appetite
What to Do
Ease discomfort with:
acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed (check package for correct amount)
a cool-mist humidifier or steamy bathroom
saline (saltwater) drops for the nostrils
gentle suction of nasal mucus using a bulb syringe when necessary
Offer lots of fluids (breast milk or formula for babies; water and juice for older kids — but no caffeinated beverages).
Never give cough or cold medicine to children under 2 years old. Call a doctor first for older kids.
Never give aspirin to a child. Seek Medical Care
If Your Child Has:
cold symptoms that get worse or last more than a week
cough and congestion
triggered by pollen, dust, pets, etc. a barking cough or a cough that is severe and occurs in spasms
a high fever and appears ill; or any fever in a baby 3 months old or younger
a sore throat that makes eating and drinking difficult
a bad headache
Remind kids to:
avoid anyone who has a cold or smokes (
secondhand smoke increases kids' risk of getting sick)
wash hands well and often, especially after nose-blowing and playing with other kids sneeze and cough into shirtsleeves or tissues — not hands
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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