Your doctor has diagnosed your child with the common cold/upper respiratory infection/virus. Children get
about 10 colds a year and each lasts up to 7-10 days.
Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not help viruses. Antibiotics may have significant side effects and may contribute to increased antibiotic resistance. So…what is a parent to do?
To help prevent colds and viruses, we encourage hand washing, eating well and sleeping well. Do not touch noses/eyes. We recommend flu vaccines yearly.
If older than 3 months you may use a fever reducer either acetaminophen every 4 hours or ibuprofen every 6 hours. Ibuprofen is ok if your child is older than 6 months. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to alternate between Tylenol and Motrin as wrong dosing may result in serious side effects.
Fluids, fluids, fluids...kids may not eat well when sick, but they must drink!!! Water, milk, Gatorade, jello, ice pops…anything to stay well hydrated.
Cough is a common complaint with the common cold. Cough suppressants may cause increased mucous plugging and increased respiratory symptoms. No studies have shown suppressants to be effective in children and due to their possible side effects we do NOT recommend cough suppressants. Vicks vapor rub may be effective.
Honey has been shown in limited studies in a single dose at bedtime to decrease night time coughing. Honey should NOT be used in babies less than 1 year due to increased risk of botulism.
Nasal congestion is also a common symptom of viruses. Nasal secretions are common and color is NOT an indication of worsening of infection. No studies have shown the efficacy of decongestants in children. These over the counter medications have side effects that include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and heart palpitations. We do NOT recommend decongestants in young children. Adult studies, however, do show some clinical improvement and decongestants may have a role in decreasing symptoms in our adolescent patients.
Humidifiers are also effective in keeping nasal secretions thin. Remember to clean the humidifier as per manufacturer directions.
No studies have supported the use of Zinc, Echinacea, vitamin C in children. Often these supplements are not FDA regulated. We do NOT recommend use of herbal supplementation in children.
When to worry…
Fevers lasting 2-3 days AFTER you see the doctor, worsening of breathing/cough or increased irritability. If your child starts acting very sick or seems to be getting worse we need to see your child again.Additionally, if your child’s fever went away and comes back in a few days we would want to re-evaluate.