Cold & Flu Information for Kids
On average, children catch colds and the flu more often than adults. Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, and viruses do not respond to treatment with antibiotics. During cold and flu season, many parents struggle to keep their children comfortable. And although colds and the flu have to run their course, there are treatments that parents can use to help ease discomfort in their children.
Cold symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Fever (under 102 degrees F)
Flu symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
- Body aches
- Fever (over 102 degrees F)
- Possible runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat
Severity of the symptoms varies and lasts approximately one week, but may linger for two weeks. Flu symptoms are typically more severe than cold symptoms. If symptoms are severe, contact your pediatrician.
Although there are no cures for colds and the flu, you can relieve your child's symptoms by taking the following measures:
- Make sure that your child gets plenty of rest and avoids over-exertion. If symptoms are severe, bed rest is recommended.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of clear fluids, such as juices, water, bouillon, popsicles, and electrolyte maintenance solutions if not eating.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet to help your child's immune system rid itself of the virus.
- Dress your child comfortably, but avoid overdressing or using heavy blankets if a fever is present so that the body can cool itself.
- Increase air humidity in the child's room. A cool mist can help moisten the air and relieve your child's cough and congestion. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
- If your child has a fever, a lukewarm bath can relieve the symptoms. Be sure to watch your child closely when s/he's in the bathtub.
- Clear your child's stuffy nose. If your child is too young to be able to blow his or her nose, s/he needs you to help relieve her nasal congestion. Start by putting a few saline nasal drops into each nostril. Then, after waiting a minute, remove the loosened mucus using a soft, rubber suction bulb. Repeating these steps before meals and bedtime can help make her more comfortable while eating and sleeping.
- Purchase an over-the-counter child cold medication for children over 2 years old. For children younger than 2 years old, contact your pediatrician. Make sure that you know your child's weight so that you can determine the correct dose based on your child's weight and age. Always read and comply with the directions on the package, and be sure to follow any special directions that your physician has given to you.