Kids Health Watch is brought to you by our friends and Children’s Medical Group
Each year from October through February, there is a marked increase in the number of colds experienced by many children. You probably know it as ‘Cold Season’. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, it has seemed like this season has been exaggerated or, alternatively, never-ending.
Most common colds are caused by viruses, which will, unfortunately, have to run their course. So, if an antibiotic will not help with symptoms (and many times it will not), what can you do as a parent to help your child feel better? Most viruses peak through 3-5 days, and then start decreasing in symptoms by 7-10 days. The symptoms can vary widely: fevers, runny nose (clear, yellow, green), congestion, cough, sore muscles, sore throat, and more.
Pain and fever control are the main ways you can help your cranky child feel better. First, make sure you have good dosing (based on your child’s weight) for both Tylenol and Motrin. These medicines help with both fever and pain control. So if your child is not sleeping through the night, refusing food, or is complaining of a sore throat, this is usually a good first step to help with those symptoms.
Secondly, for the cold symptoms like congestion, runny nose, and cough, there are lots of additional options for medication to provide relief. For children younger than 2 years of age, options include: use of a humidifier, vapor rub, suctioning with saline, and honey (only after 1 year of age). Once a child turns two, many more options are available. These include daily Zyrtec or Claritin to help with runny nose and itchy eyes, and Mucinex to help with congestion. As for coughing, try to keep in mind that coughing is your body’s natural way to clear chest congestion, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing! However, if your child’s cough is becoming too disruptive, your pediatrician can suggest and prescribe a variety of cough medicines to help.
Unfortunately, viruses are a part of life, and cold season is here to stay. However, if fever or other symptoms are continuing to persist, or if your child is just ill-appearing and you’re worried something else might be going on, feel free to take him or her to get checked out by your pediatrician. When it comes to a sick child, sometimes a bit of reassurance can be just what the doctor ordered!