What causes colds?
Colds are caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and sinuses.  Most children have frequent colds, especially during the first two years of life.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is a runny nose.  There may also be sneezing, a sore throat and dry cough.  A slight fever may be present, but it should last only 1 or 2 days.
How long does a cold last?
A cold most often lasts about 7 to 10 days.
Are colds harmful?
Although colds may cause discomfort, in most cases they do not cause major problems. The most common problems caused by colds are ear infections.
When should I call my child’s pediatrician?
Your child’s pediatrician may want to check your children if any of these occur:
·         If the cold lasts longer than 2 weeks.
·         If the fever lasts longer than 2 days or comes back after going away.
·         If the fever is over 103 degrees.
·         If your child is very fussy and very drowsy.
·         If your child has a bad cough, is wheezing or has trouble breathing.
·         If your child keep vomiting.
·         If your child pulls at his ears, complains of an earache or has any ear discharge.
Are antibiotics helpful for a cold?
No, antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.  For those children who have recurrent ear infections, antibiotics may help prevent an ear infection from occurring.
What can I do to help relieve the symptoms?
·         For a runny nose or congestion, use nasal saline (1/4 tsp. in 1 cup of water or store bought ready to use saline sprays) 3-4 times per day and use a bulb syringe.
·         For fever, headache or aching muscles use acetaminophen.
·         For congestion and coughs use a cough suppressant, antihistamine, and /or decongestant as directed by your physician.  Be careful to avoid medications that make your child more active.
·         Vaporizers may be helpful in relieving cold symptoms.  Hot air vaporizers can be dangerous because they can cause burns, so it is better to use a cool mist vaporizer.  If a cool mist ultrasonic humidifier is used, fill it with distilled water.
·         Babies under age 3 months cannot breathe well through their mouths, so it is important to keep the nose clear in this age group.  Use a bulb syringe to suction the nose every 2-3 hours or more often if needed.  If the mucous in the nose is very thick, you can loosen it with a few drops of salt water before suctioning the nose.
·         Using the bulb syringe also will take some practice.  Make sure you seal off the other nostril when using the bulb syringe and then make a tight seal around the bulb in the other nostril with your free fingers.  Place one or two drops of salt water in the nostril before using the bulb syringe.  Put some petroleum jelly just on the outer edge of the nose to prevent irritation.
·         Have your child drink extra liquids.  This will help prevent dehydration.
How are colds spread?
The cold virus is most often spread by touch rather than through the air.  Teach your child to wash her hands often and use alcohol based hand sanitizers many times throughout the day and especially when she has a cold.  The cold “germs” are spread when you touch your nose or eyes after your hands have been contaminated with a cold virus.