Common Cold


Dr. Patel
Most children will have more colds than any other illness. In fact, the average child has eight to ten colds in just the first two years of their life. Captain Darin, can you tell us more about this extremely common illness?

Captain Darin
Of course, Dr. Patel. The common cold is what's known as an upper respiratory infection, and it's typically caused by a virus. The good news is that most viral upper respiratory infections go away by themselves without leading to anything more serious.

It is possible, however, for the infection to spread to the ears or to the lower respiratory tract, potentially causing more serious illness. Although it's rare, it's also possible for a child with a cold to get a secondary bacterial infection, which could cause middle ear infection, bacterial sinus infection, bronchitis, or pneumonia.

Most older children with a cold don't need to see a provider unless they begin to show signs of more serious illness. Infants less than one month, on the other hand, should be seen by a provider at the first sign of a cold, as they are much more vulnerable to developing dangerous complications. Children under three months should be seen by a provider if they have a fever or breathing problems that make feeding difficult.

The best way to prevent the common cold is to keep a safe distance from people who have one and, as much as possible, avoid direct contact. This is especially true for babies under three months old. However, this can be difficult for children who are in school or daycare.

When your child is old enough, teach them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and to put the tissue in the trash right away. They should also be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water, or use instant hand sanitizers when soap and water aren't readily available.

You can also help keep your child safe from viruses by disinfecting or wiping down commonly touched surfaces, such as sink handles, doorknobs, railings, refrigerator and microwave doors, toys, remote controls, and electronic devices.