The common cold is caused by several different viruses and has thus
far escaped cure or prevention. The symptoms of a cold include
watery eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat and sneezing. A child may
also have low-grade fever congestion and a cough. Most colds are
self-limited and will run their course in 5-20 days. In general,
children three months to three years old have more frequent colds
(average 5-8 each year) and symptoms that last longer. Children in
group settings, such as school and day care, also have more viral
infections due to their greater exposure to other children.
The following links
guidelines for the symptomatic treatment of a cold.
A child with a cold is
most contagious to others in the first 72 hours of the illness. If
fever is present, the child should not attend school or day care.
These viral infections are usually spread by coughing, sneezing,
hand-to-hand contact, and contact with contaminated objects.
treatment, colds will last an expected 5-10 days. Since they are
viral infections, antibiotics are not used unless complications
arise. Medicated nose drops or sprays, such as Neosynephrine or
Afrin, may cause persistent nasal congestion and should not be use
unless specifically recommended.
A discolored nasal discharge is not
necessarily an indication for antibiotics. The nasal discharge of
the common cold will typically change from a clear discharge, to
cloudy, to discolored (yellow or green), then resolve without
treatment. If the nasal discharge has lasted more than 10 days, is
discolored and is not improving, then sinusitis may exist and a
doctor should be consulted.
Colds may lead to complications or
have other illnesses mistaken for them. Indications for medical
attention include high fever or fever occurring several days after
the onset of illness, significant sore throat, severe headache or
facial pain, difficulty breathing not solved by clearing the nose,
excessive sleepiness or irritability, or a child who appears more
than mildly ill.