- Runny nose and sore throat caused by a virus
- You think your child has a cold. Reason: other family members, friends or classmates have same symptoms.
- Also called an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Symptoms of a Cold
- Runny or stuffy nose
- The nasal discharge starts clear but changes to gray. It can also be yellow or green.
- Most children have a fever at the start.
- 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 of Colds
- Colds are caused by many respiratory viruses. Healthy children get about 6 colds a year.
- Influenza virus causes a bad cold with more fever and muscle aches.
- Colds are not serious. With a cold, about 5 and 10% of children develop another health problem. 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 (unless it goes above 104° F or 40° C)
- 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 (other health problems)
Using this guide, you can decide if your child has developed another health problem. 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
- Lots of pus in the eyes (eyelids stuck together after naps)
- Trouble breathing or rapid breathing (could have pneumonia)
- Fever lasts over 3 days
- Fever that goes away for 24 hours and then returns
- Sore throat lasts over 5 days (may have Strep throat)
- Nasal discharge lasts over 2 weeks
- Cough lasts over 3 weeks
Trouble Breathing: How to Tell
Trouble breathing is a reason to see a doctor right away. Respiratory distress is the medical name for trouble breathing. Here are symptoms to worry about:
- Struggling for each breath or shortness of breath
- Tight breathing so that your child can barely speak or cry
- Ribs are pulling in with each breath (called retractions)
- Breathing has become noisy (such as wheezes)
- Breathing is much faster than normal
- Lips or face turn a blue color