’Tis The Season….Respiratory Season
Does it seem like your child *always* has a cold?
There is a simple reason for that: Toddlers and preschoolers can catch up to 12 colds per year and still be completely normal! When you consider that each cold can have symptoms lasting 2-3 weeks, that can be 36 out of 52 weeks of the year that your toddler has symptoms! In fact, young children often get cold viruses back to back, or more than one at a time. WOW! As children grow, and their immune system develops antibodies to fight cold viruses, we see the number of annual colds decline, until reaching the adult level of 2-3 colds per year.
So what can we do about it then?
This is truly a case where “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Washing hands frequently (20 seconds each time) and making sure your child is up to date on vaccinations, including for flu and COVID-19, is the best prevention you can offer them.
Since colds are viruses, antibiotics are not effective. The old saying is that it takes a “tincture of time” and that holds true. As with any other virus, we recommend supportive care in the form of lots of rest, lots of fluids, acetaminophen or ibuprofen only as needed (fever is your friend- it means the body is fighting the virus!), blowing the nose/suctioning the nose, using nasal saline washes or saline spray to thin congestion, and using a humidifier . For cough, (which is often the last symptom to go away and can linger for up to 3 weeks) warm liquids (try warm apple juice or warm lemonade) or honey (1/2 to 1 tsp as needed ) can soothe the throat, relax the cough reflex and thin secretions. In fact, studies have shown plain honey to be more effective than over the counter cough suppressants, and it doesn’t have the nasty side effects. Just make sure your child brushes teeth after taking honey- we don’t want to encourage cavities to form!
How Do I know If It’s Flu, A Cold or COVID-19?
Honestly, you probably won’t without testing. Symptoms of all three overlap a good deal. All are treated with the same supportive care, mentioned above, unless symptoms progress.
Yes, it looks gross, and can seem icky, but yellow or green mucous is just a sign that the body is fighting the infection extra hard. It’s not a reason for concern. The color actually comes from dead white blood cells that have rushed to the infection to fight it. When they die off, they are flushed out in the mucous giving it that color.
So When Do I Need To Call The Doctor?
- If your child has a fever for more than 3 days
- If your child is refusing to drink, and/or is making fewer wet diapers or using the bathroom less frequently
- If your child has an underlying condition that makes them more vulnerable
- *If your child is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 or higher by any method
- If you are worried something is wrong
If your child has this symptom after hours, on the weekend, or any other time the clinic is closed, please do not delay care and seek care urgently/emergently.
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