Cold Season

Fighting the Common Cold

Cold season is right around the corner. Most colds typically occur during winter and springtime. Colds are the leading cause of missed school days. Children get an average of 6-8 colds per year. Let’s take a look at common cold symptoms, how to manage these symptoms, ways to protect your family from getting a cold, and when you should seek medical attention.

The common cold is often referred to as an acute upper respiratory viral infection. Colds are caused by viruses. Your body has to fight off the virus. Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Sore throat

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Congestion

  • Body aches

  • Headache

  • Runny nose

  • Sneezing

Generally it takes about 7-10 days to fight off these symptoms. However, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or respiratory conditions are more at risk to develop serious infections like pneumonia and should seek medical attention sooner.

The best way to manage these symptoms is to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. Hydration helps to keep all the mucus thin so it can be removed from the body easily. Rest allows your body to fight off the virus and recover more quickly. Over-the-counter medicines help to relieve symptoms, but do not make the virus go away any faster. Please call your health care provider for medications and dosing directions. Some medications are not safe for children to take because of sedating side effects. One of the best and safest medicines to help relieve cold symptoms is nasal saline. This medication may be used in all ages of children, including infants. Saline works to thin the mucus, making it easier for the body to clear it out. Infants and toddlers will need to be suctioned afterwards because they cannot blow their noses well. Using a nasal aspirator like the Nose Frida, can help to remove all the mucous from the nose. Never suction the nose longer than 10 seconds. Keeping the nose clear of mucus helps to improve breathing, coughing, post nasal drip, and reduces the risk of complications like ear infections.

Since viruses cause colds, antibiotics do not help to reduce symptoms or shorten the duration. If your child were to take antibiotics unnecessarily, this can make it more difficult for them to fight future bacterial infections.

Respiratory viruses are spread through the air and from respiratory secretions from an infected individual. You can get sick when you shake hands with someone who has a cold, or touch a surface, like a doorknob, that has viruses on it, then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose. To prevent this:

  • Wash your hands often. Use warm soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Viruses can live on the surface of your hands. Make sure to wash them before you eat, drink, or prepare meals.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. This is how the virus enters your body.

  • Stay away from sick people. Avoid close contact with someone you know has a respiratory virus.

If you or a family member are have a respiratory virus, then follow these tips to prevent spreading it to others:

  • Stay at home when you are sick, especially if you have had a fever higher than 100.4℉ in the last 24 hours

  • Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands

  • Move away from people when you cough or sneeze

  • Completely cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze using a tissue or your upper arm

  • Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose

  • Frequently disinfected touched surfaces such as toys, doorknobs, TV remotes, and cellphones

It is time to see a health care provider when:

  • Your symptoms last more than 7 days

  • Your symptoms seem severe or unusual

  • Your fever lasts more than 5 days or unresponsive to Tylenol or Ibuprofen

  • Your child is younger than 3 months with a fever