You might have observed that children under 5 years of age are frequently brought to hospital because of common cold and cough. What can be the underlying reason for this frequent colds in children?
Common cold – Frequent infection in young children – Overview
Everybody knows common cold is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and sinsuses.
It is told that young children will get as many as 8 – 10 episodes of cold per year before they are turning 2 years old.
Young children are more affected with cold when compared to older children and adults. Its because they haven’t build up immunity to more than 100 cold viruses that are ready to infect them. This immunity building process takes time.
Children can get cold from many persons. It can be from siblings, parents, family members, playmates or care givers. It is found that children who attend day care is more prone to be affected with cold.
Is your child is having a weak immune system?
You cannot assume that your kid is having a weak immune system just because of mere reason that he/she is getting so many colds.
But yes, he or she might be having a weaker immune system if their cold is lead to serious complications.
Symptoms of common cold in children
– Runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing and mild sore throat
– Lack of apetite (hunger), head ache or tired more than usual.
– Fever (sometimes, but not so high)
– Last for 1- 2 weeks
What about CROUP, Broncholitis, Influenza etc?
These diseases are caused by respiratory viruses that cause cold in older children and adults but cause serious illness in young children (infants and toddlers).
Croup will have hoarseness, noisy breathing, barking cough etc as symptoms while Bronchiolitis will have wheezing and difficult breathing.
Child with Influenza will have high fever, cough and body aches. It affects morew quickly than cold and kid will be usually in bed. A child with common cold usually will have energy to play and keep up their daily routines.
Now you will be able to differentiate Common cold with CROUP, Bronchiolitis and Influenza.
When to contact Doctor?
If baby is under 3 months of age, he/she can have difficult breathing due to blocked nose which may interfere with feeding. Contact your doctor if he/she having trouble breathing, is not eating/is vomiting or has a very high fever of 37.5 degree celsius.
Children of any age group should be brought to doctor if the child is having the following symptoms,
– Rapid breathing or strenous breathing
– Child’s lips looks blue
– Very bad coughing with choking or vomiting.
These signs can be of Pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
There is an yellow/green discharge from nose with cold. Should i contact my doctor?
Its common to have thick or discoloured (yellow, green) discharge from nose with cold. This doesn’t need antibiotic. But if the condition persists longer than 10 – 14 days, contact your doctor.
Things parents should know while treating cold in children
– Understand there is no cure for cold. It go by its own.
– Parents will be tensed because some kids will not be eating anything when they are having cold. If he/she doesn’t wants to eat, offer plenty of fluids and small, nutritious meals.
– Do not give ‘over the counter’ (medications available without prescriptions) unless or until your doctor prescribes it. If at all giving, don’t give more than is recommended.
– Decongestants and antihistamines have no effect on coughin. Antihistamines are not effective fo colds. Better wait for a week before starting antihistamines.
– Use saline drops or saline nasal spray if the mucus is very thick.
– A cool mist humidifier may make a child with a stuffy nose more comfortable.
– Medicated nose drops or sprays provide only brief relief and shouldn’t be used for more than 2 to 3 days because the congestion can actually get worse. Don’t use these products in children under 6 years old.
– Monitor your child’s temperature. To ease pain, aches or a fever with a temperature greater than 38.5°C, use acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol, Tempra and Panadol). Ibuprofen (eg, Advil and Motrin) may be used for children over 6 months old.
– Colds cannot be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics should be used only when children develop complications from bacteria, such as an ear infection or pneumonia.
– Children can continue their normal activities if they feel well enough to do so. If they have fever or complications, they may need a few days of rest at home.
What parents can do to prevent occurence of cold?
– Keep babies under 3 months old away from people with colds, if possible.
– Make sure your child has received all of the recommended immunizations.
– Handwashing is the most important way to reduce the spread of colds:
Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or wiping your nose.
Wash your hands after being in direct contact with someone who has a respiratory infection.
Wash your own hands and your child’s hands after wiping your child’s nose.
When water and soap are not available, use premoistened hand wipes or alcohol-based hand rinses. Keep hand rinses out of the reach of children because they may be harmful if swallowed.
If your child attends daycare, tell the caregiver about any symptoms and ask if your child should stay away from daycare that day. When both parents work outside the home, plan ahead by making arrangements for when your child becomes ill.
Article Courtesy – Canadian Paediatric Society
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