What to do when your child has a cold
Colds can't be cured or cut short, but you can help make your child more comfortable.
As a parent, you want to protect your child from harm and illness whenever possible. But the common cold is one illness you often can't prevent. According to local Pediatrician and Internal Medicine Specialist and active member of the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Medical Staff, Adrienne Breaux, M.D., American children get an average of six to eight colds every year.
Though you can't cure or shorten these infections, there are ways to soothe the symptoms and reduce your child's risk of catching the next cold.
Most colds are caused by a rhinovirus or coronavirus that infects the upper respiratory tract-the nose, throat, sinuses, ears and breathing tubes that lead into the lungs.
"Your child may catch a cold by breathing in virus particles left in the air by someone else's sneeze or cough, or by touching a surface that has virus particles on it and then touching his or her eyes, nose or mouth," says Dr. Breaux. "Kids usually have more frequent colds than adults because of their close contact with lots of other children at school and day care. Their young immune systems are also less likely to have built up defenses against the most common cold viruses."
Colds cannot be cured. Antibiotics can't touch the viruses that cause them. Fortunately, colds go away without treatment. Most children will recover in seven to 14 days.
In the meantime, you can make your child more comfortable with these suggestions from Dr. Breaux.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), parents should not give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children younger than 2 years unless specifically directed to do so by their health care provider. These products could be harmful to young children if they're given incorrectly or if more than one product with the same active ingredient is used.
"Parents who are unsure about whether to give a cough or cold product to their child, or which product to choose, should talk to their child's health care provider," says Dr. Breaux. "I often remind parents that cough and cold medicines do not cure the common cold, they only treat the symptoms. Children will get better with time."
Rest, fluids and time are usually enough to take care of a cold, but sometimes it can turn into a more serious infection.
According to Dr. Breaux, these are all signs that you should call your child's doctor:
Though you can't protect your child from colds completely, you can take steps to make frequent infections less likely:
Also keep in mind that healthy children are less prone to illness, period. "Encourage your child to eat healthfully and get plenty of sleep and exercise," Dr. Breaux adds. "A healthy body and strong immune system help protect your child from all viruses, including the ones that cause colds."
For more information about this topic, call CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital at
(337) 491-7577 or log on to www.christusstpatrick.org.
Adrienne L. Breaux, M.D., is a local physician specializing in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine. Her office is located at 711 South Ryan Street, Suite 600.