Common Cold

A cold is a viral infec­tion of the nose and throat. A child with a cold will dis­play a run­ny or stuffy nose and may also have a fever and a sore throat. Cold virus­es are spread from one per­son to anoth­er by hand con­tact, cough­ing and sneez­ing, not by cold air or drafts. A cold does not respond to antibi­otics, so the only cure is time.

The aver­age child under the age of 5 may have as many as eight to 10 colds per year. A fever asso­ci­at­ed with a cold may last a few days. A cool mist vapor­iz­er or humid­i­fi­er and a nasal aspi­ra­tor are help­ful in reliev­ing symp­toms, and aceta­minophen may be used for any discomfort.

It is not nec­es­sary to see the doc­tor for a com­mon cold; how­ev­er, a child should be brought in if he or she exhibits any signs of a sec­ondary or more seri­ous infec­tion. Signs to look for are: ear­ache, wors­en­ing cough, wheez­ing, nasal drainage last­ing longer than sev­en to 10 days, increased irri­tabil­i­ty, lethar­gy, unusu­al changes in behav­ior, a fever last­ing more than three days or a new fever.” A low-grade (102F or low­er) fever is not uncom­mon at the start of a cold, but a tem­per­a­ture that aris­es after a few days could sig­nal a sec­ondary infection.