That’s the bad news, but there is some good news, too: Most colds go away by themselves and do not lead to anything worse.
Colds are caused by viruses (these are much smaller than bacteria). A sneeze or a cough by someone with a virus can then be breathed in by another person, making them sick. The virus may also go from one person to another, in the following ways:
Once the virus gets into the body and grows more and more viruses, your child will get some of these symptoms:
If your child has a typical cold without major problems, the symptoms should go away slowly after seven to ten days.
Older children with a cold don't usually need to see a doctor unless they look very sick. If a child is three months or younger, however, call the pediatrician at the first sign of illness. With young babies, it may be hard to tell when they are very sick. Colds can quickly become dangerous problems, such as bronchiolitis, croup, or pneumonia.
For a child older than three months, call the pediatrician if:
Your child’s doctor may want to see your child, or may ask you to watch her closely and report back if she doesn’t get better each day and is not completely better within one week from the start of her illness.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics may be used to fight infections caused by bacteria, but they have no effect on viruses. The best thing you can do is to make your child comfortable, gets plenty of rest and drinks extra amounts of liquids.
For babies under three months old, the best prevention against the common cold is to keep them away from people who have one. This is especially true during the winter, when more people are sick with viruses. A virus that causes a mild illness in an older child or an adult can cause a more serious one in an infant.
Children in child care and school should learn to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze (and then put the tissue in the trash right away). Everyone should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This can help stop colds and other viruses from spreading.
Oral over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines can cause serious harm to young children. The risks of using these medicines is more than any help the medicines might have in reducing cold symptoms.
Luckily, you can easily treat coughs and colds in young children without these cough and cold medicines.
A good home remedy is safe, does not cost a lot, and can help your child feel better. They are also found in almost every home.
Here is how you can treat your child's symptoms with home remedies:
Breastfeeding is still recommended for infants with common colds. If it is difficult for your baby to feed at the breast, expressing breastmilk into a cup or bottle may be an option.
If cold symptoms are not bothering your child, he or she doesn't need medicine or home remedies. Many children with a cough or a stuffy nose are happy, play normally, and sleep well.
Only treat symptoms if they make your child uncomfortable, have trouble sleeping, or the cough is really bothersome (e.g., a hacking cough).
Because fevers help your child's body fight infections, only treat a fever if it slows your child down or causes discomfort. This doesn't usually happen until your child's temperature reaches 102°F (39°C) or higher. If needed, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) can be safely used to treat fever or pain.