Colds

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • The common cold is an infection of the nose and throat
  • Main symptoms are a runny nose and sore throat
  • You think your child has a cold.  Reason: Other family members, friends or classmates have same symptoms.
  • The common cold is caused by a virus
  • Also called an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)

Symptoms

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • The nasal discharge may be clear, cloudy, yellow or green
  • Fever can also be present
  • A sore throat can be the first sign
  • At times, the child may also have a cough and hoarse voice. Sometimes, watery eyes and swollen lymph nodes in the neck also occur.

Cause

  • Colds are caused by many respiratory viruses. Healthy children get about 6 colds a year. Influenza feels like a bad cold with more fever and muscle aches.
  • Colds are not serious. With a cold, about 5 and 10% of children develop a complication. Most often, this is an ear or sinus infection. These are caused by a bacteria.

Colds: Normal Viral Symptoms

  • Colds can cause a runny nose, sore throat, hoarse voice, a cough or croup. They can also cause stuffiness of the nose, sinus or ear. Red watery eyes can also occur. Colds are the most common reason for calls to the doctor. This is because of all the symptoms that occur with colds.
  • Cold symptoms are also the number one reason for office and ER visits. Hopefully, this information will save you time and money. It can help you to avoid some needless trips to the doctor. The cold symptoms listed below are normal. These children don't need to be seen:
    • Fever up to 3 days
    • Sore throat up to 5 days (with other cold symptoms)
    • Nasal discharge and congestion up to 2 weeks
    • Coughs up to 3 weeks

Colds: Symptoms of Secondary Bacterial Infections

  • Using this guide, you can decide if your child has developed a complication. This happens in about 5 to 10% of children who have a cold. Many will have an ear infection or sinus infection. Look for these symptoms:
    • Earache or ear discharge
    • Sinus pain not relieved by nasal washes
    • Trouble breathing or rapid breathing
    • Fever lasts over 3 days
    • Fever that goes away for 24 hours and then returns
    • Sore throat lasts over 5 days
    • Nasal discharge lasts over 2 weeks
    • Cough lasts over 3 weeks

Return to School

  • Your child can go back to school after the fever is gone. Your child should also feel well enough to join in normal activities. For practical purposes, the spread of colds cannot be prevented.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

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