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Common Cold Care for Children

Little Asian girl with with a common cold in Cumming, GA
Image Credit – Chanintorn.v/

Cold season is among us and we wanted to make sure that you have the common cold care facts for keeping your children safe, healthy and know what to do if the cold arises. Here at Vickery Pediatrics, we want to make sure that all of our patients have all the knowledge necessary to give the best care to their children. Using our blogs and video series are just some of the ways of doing this.

Below You Will Find:

  • When to stay home from school or work
  • When to go see your health care provider
  • When to go to the emergency department

Symptomatic Common Cold Care

Most cold symptoms are a result of viral infections. The goal is to manage symptoms. Below are some tips to manage symptoms.

1. Rest – Getting enough rest when your body is trying to fight off an infection is key to recovery when you have a cold.

2. Fluids – Best to avoid high sugar drinks. -Consider water with lemon, soups with broth, ice chips/ice pops, plain water.

3. Pain or fever reducer – Ibuprofen or Tylenol (No Ibuprofen under 6 months of age). -No aspirin-containing products under 19 years of age -Be careful to monitor the ingredients of over-the-counter medications to ensure not overdosing on one particular medication.

4. Saline nasal spray – Suction as needed or encourage blowing of the nose with older children. Suctioning too often may result in swelling of nasal passages from trauma.

5. Handwashing – Washing your hands after you cough, a sneeze can and will help the prevention of spreading germs while sick.

6. Cover your cough – Covering your mouth when you cough keeps your germs more intact than letting them fly all over.

7. De-stress – Stress, in general, does a lot to the body in negative ways, but when you are sick keeping the stress to a minimum will help you heal faster.

When to stay home from school or work

Consider keeping your child home from school if (s)he is too sick to be comfortable at school or (s)he may spread a contagious disease to other children. As a general rule, children should remain home from school if:

  • Fever – temperature greater than 100.4. May return to school once fever has resolved for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medications (ibuprofen or Tylenol)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (unusually frequent and watery stools). May return to school once vomiting and diarrhea have resolved for 24 hours.
  • Frequent cough – A child may go to school with a mild cough, but if becoming more frequent, consider staying home. A worsening cough may indicate worsening infection or can be very disruptive to your child and their peers’ learning.
  • Significant pain (ex. ear, stomach)
  • Widespread rash – Rash does not exclude a child from going to school as many viral rashes appear after the point of being considered contagious. However, widespread rashes should be evaluated by your healthcare provider to ensure it is not infectious.
  • Strep throat – Children diagnosed with strep throat should remain at home until on antibiotics for 24 hours and fever free without fever reducers for 24 hours.
  • Pink Eye – Children diagnosed with pink eye should remain at home until antibiotic eye drops have been used for 24 hours.

When to see your healthcare provider

Most illnesses are caused by viruses and may be cared for at home by treating symptoms; however, there are times it is best to be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

  • Fever (temperature >100.4)– Not all fevers require evaluation by your healthcare provider, but consideration should be made if:
  • Barky “croup” cough, particularly in infants and toddlers
  • Sore throat with fever, enlarged lymph nodes, without cough, or a known strep exposure
  • No improvement in symptoms after 10-14 days.
  • Worsening of cough, congestion, facial pain after a few days of illness – especially if fever is present
  • Ear pain

When to go to the emergency department

The Emergency department should be used for people that are very sick. Mild illnesses can be managed by your primary care office. Below are the reasons to be evaluated.

  • Fever (rectal temperature >100.4) in children less than 12 weeks of age
  • Moderate to severe increased work of breath or any difficulty breathing (fast breathing/trouble breathing, bluish lips or face, ribs pulling in with each breath, chest pain) when unable to be seen soon in primary care office.
  • Stridor – high pitched sound when taking a breath in
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake OR unusual drowsiness
  • Seizures or other neurologic symptoms
  • Worsening chronic medical conditions

Self Care

It is very stressful when your child is not feeling well. Increased fussiness requiring your attention, care to manage symptoms, and sleepless nights may leave you exhausted. Try to take a little time for self-care to keep yourself feeling well and minimize your risk of becoming sick too.

We hope that you find all the information above helpful for knowing how to handle colds this season. At Vickery Pediatrics our goal is to be here for our patients and inform the parents of any and all information to help them be as healthy as possible. Located in Cumming, Ga we have been providing top-quality pediatric care to people all over from Johns Creek, Alpharetta, and more. Posts like this and more can be found here or on any of our social platforms. We cover it all from how to handle Eczema, flu shot information, plus our videos! contact us today for information on our services or information posted.

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