The common cold is an infection of the upper part of the respiratory system. It affects the nose, throat, and empty cavities in the skull called sinuses. Over 200 viruses can cause a cold, but the Rhinovirus is the most common type. Children can get up to 10 colds a year, with each lasting 7 to 14 days.
Symptoms of cold
Once your child has caught a cold virus, symptoms show in 2 to 3 days which include:
- Low fever
- Sore throat
- Watery eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Runny or blocked nose and difficulty in breathing
- Vomiting, especially with young children
How do kids catch colds?
When someone near your child sneezes or coughs, mucus drops float in the air. Breathing in these droplets can spread a cold. But children also catch a cold if they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching something with cold viruses on it, like furniture at preschool or the hands of their friends. Always make sure that your child washes their hands regularly.
How to prevent your child from getting a cold?
Because there are so many cold viruses, there isn’t a vaccination to help prevent children from getting colds. A strong immune system is therefore the best prevention. If your child is at risk of catching a cold, provide a healthy diet and make sure they get plenty of rest and does regular exercise all of which boost the immune system.
Treating the common cold
There is no known cure for the common cold. Most children recover from colds naturally. To help your child feel better:
- Give your child plenty of fluids, such as water, electrolyte solutions, juices, and warm soup. This helps prevent dehydration
- Make sure your child gets plenty of rest
- Use a nasal aspirator to clear their nose, understanding that especially babies will have difficulty feeding as long as their nose is stuffy
- Keep your child away from bad air. Tobacco smoke or pollution will make the irritation in the nose and throat worse
- Avoid cool winds: make sure your child is not exposed to too much direct air conditioning or ventilation
- Keep your child home until fever-free for at least 1 day
You should get medical help when the common cold develops into something more serious. Therefore, if your child develops a fever over 38.5°C, rapid or laboured breathing, a severe cough, or if they are very sleepy or bad-tempered, you should speak to a medical professional.