Treating the Common Cold in Children and Teens

Treating the Common Cold in Children

The common cold, also known as an upper respiratory infection (URI), is an infection of the nose and throat, the "upper" parts of our breathing system (respiratory tract).

A cold is caused by many different viruses, which are spread from person to person through direct contact. For example, a person can be exposed to a virus when he touches his eyes or nose, after shaking hands with an infected person or when he is "splashed" by the tiny droplets that come out when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Once someone is exposed, the virus usually enters the body through the eyes or nose, and causes stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, hoarse voice, cough and fever.

Colds usually are mild illnesses that get better within one or two weeks. However, even mild symptoms can make children feel miserable. This guide will give you information about different ways to treat your child's cold symptoms.

Remember, this guide is not meant to take the place of a visit or call to your doctor. If your child has asthma or any other chronic health problem, you should call your doctor rather than using this guide.

Click here to begin.

First, let's check to see if your child's symptoms could be something more serious than a common cold.

Does your child have any of the following symptoms

  • difficulty breathing

  • lips, mouth and fingertips turning blue

  • inability to speak

  • neck pain or stiffness

  • not drinking and/or not making urine?

Yes, my child has one or more of those symptoms.

No, my child is not having any of those symptoms.

That's good. These symptoms would require emergency care. Here are a few more symptoms you need to consider before we get to treating a cold.

Does your child have any of the following symptoms

  • headache

  • body aches or pains

  • diarrhea or vomiting

  • chills

  • high fever (102F/39C or higher)

  • a cough that is severe or sounds barky?

Yes, my child is having one or more of these symptoms.

No, my child is not having any of these symptoms.

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