The common cold is most often caused by a class of viruses called rhinoviruses. This nasty seasonal illness comes with symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing and coughing.
Occurring particularly in the fall and winter, this seven- to 10-day condition impacts seniors, adults, teens, children and even babies. How does the virus work? What can you do to treat colds in your kids? Keep reading to learn all about this contagion from the experts at your pediatrician’s office.
What Is the Cold Virus and How Does It Work?
Also called the rhinovirus, the germ which causes the common cold comes in more than 100 forms. It is spread mostly by respiratory droplets from a cough or a sneeze, by person to person contact or by touching contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs.
Colds cause the following iconic symptoms:
- Dry, scratchy, sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Poor appetite
In general, the human body reacts to the virus with a fairly intense inflammatory immune response lasting seven to 10 days. Healthy people can expect to get at around two colds per year; young kids get at least six to eight, particularly if they are in daycare or school.
Once someone comes in contact with the common cold virus, the germ attaches to body cells. In the first three days after infection, the person exhibits no symptoms whatsoever. Yet, this is when researchers say people are most likely to spread the germs around their environment without even knowing it.
So, basic hygiene remains the best way to prevent the common cold. This includes frequent handwashing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing as prime examples.
Dealing With the Common Cold in Children
While research on rhinoviruses abound, there is no vaccine or cure for the common cold. Treatments to keep kids and families comfortable are important, however, as is taking care to limit the spread of this catchy illness.
Treatments for the common cold in children include:
- Fever control with acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your pediatrician
- Use of a room humidifier to keep mucous loose and breathing easier
- Nasal sprays to clear congestion
- Drinking plenty of water, juices, soup and other fluids to reduce fever and loosen congestion
- Gargling with salt water to ease sore throats
- Resting and staying home from child care, school, sports and other group activities
High fevers, particularly in young children, warrant a trip to the pediatrician’s office. Also, if ear pain or persistent vomiting and diarrhea happen, call the doctor’s office to arrange a visit.
Cold and Flu Treatment at Westchester Pediatric
At Westchester Pediatrics in Purchase, NY, our team of six fully-qualified and dedicated pediatricians help families understand the common cold, alleviate its symptoms and find ways to stay healthy during the cold and flu season.