Coldsenparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/P-infectCold-enHD-AR1.jpgColds are the most common infectious disease in the United States - and the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school.common cold, cold, a cold, the cold, colds, sneezing, sniffling, sniffles, sneezes, runny nose, cough, coughing, infection of the upper respiratory tract, respiratory infections, virus, viral infection, upper respiratory infection, upper respiratory infections, rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, contagiousness, vaccines, getting enough rest, good nutrition, sinusitis, ear infections, laryngitis, bronchitis, chicken soup, cool mist humidifiers, over-the-counter decongestants, antihistamines, keeping my children healthy, CD1Pulmonology, CD1Primary Care03/22/200012/05/201912/05/2019Patricia Solo-Josephson, MD06/01/2017cde8bccc-0aac-4680-b312-7fda52b78627https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/cold.html/<h3>What Is a Cold?</h3> <p>The common cold is a contagious viral infection of the upper <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/lungs.html/">respiratory tract</a>.</p> <p>Most adults catch a cold from time to time, but kids can get eight colds per year or more. They're the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school.</p> <h3>What Causes a Cold?</h3> <p>Most colds are caused by rhinoviruses carried in invisible droplets in the air or on things we touch. These viruses can get into the protective lining of the nose and throat, setting off an <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/immune.html/">immune system</a> reaction that can cause a sore throat, headache, and trouble breathing through the nose.</p> <p>Dry air &mdash; indoors or outside &mdash; can lower resistance to infection by the viruses that cause colds. So can being a smoker or being around someone who smokes. Smokers are more likely to catch a cold than people who don't smoke, and their symptoms probably will be worse and last longer, and can even lead to bronchitis or <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/pneumonia.html/">pneumonia</a>.</p> <p>But despite some <a class="kh_anchor">old wives' tales</a>, not wearing a jacket or sweater when it's chilly, sitting or sleeping in a draft, and going outside while your hair's wet <strong>do not</strong> cause colds.</p> <h3>What Are the Signs &amp; Symptoms of a Cold?</h3> <p>The first symptoms of a cold are often a tickle in the throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. Kids with colds also might feel very tired and have a sore throat, <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/childs-cough.html/">cough</a>, headache, mild <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fever.html/">fever</a>, muscle aches, and loss of appetite. Mucus from the nose may become thick yellow or green.</p> <h3>Are Colds Contagious?</h3> <p>Colds are the most common infectious disease in the United States. They're very contagious, especially in the first 2 to 4 days after symptoms begin. They can even spread for a couple of weeks after someone starts feeling sick.</p> <p>Colds spread through person-to-person contact or by breathing in virus particles, which can travel up to 12 feet through the air when someone with a cold coughs or sneezes. Touching the mouth or nose after touching a contaminated surface can also spread a cold.</p> <h3>How Long Do Colds Last?</h3> <p>Cold symptoms usually appear 2 or 3 days after exposure to a source of infection. Most colds clear up within 1 week, but some last a bit longer.</p> <h3>How Are Colds Diagnosed?</h3> <p>Your doctor won't be able to identify the specific virus causing cold symptoms, but can examine your child's throat and ears and take a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/labtest11.html/">throat culture</a> to make sure the symptoms aren't from another condition that may need treatment. If symptoms get worse instead of better after 3 days or so, the problem could be <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/strep-throat.html/">strep throat</a>, <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sinusitis.html/">sinusitis</a>, pneumonia, or bronchitis, especially if your son or daughter smokes.</p> <p>If symptoms last for more than a week, appear at the same time every year, or happen when your child is around pollen, dust, or animals, an <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/allergy.html/">allergy</a> could be to blame. Kids who have trouble breathing or wheeze when they catch a cold could have <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/asthma-basics.html/">asthma</a>.</p> <h3>How Are Colds Treated?</h3> <p>Colds will clear up on their own without specific medical treatment. Medicine can't cure a cold, but can ease symptoms like muscle aches, headache, and fever. You can give your child <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/acetaminophen.html/">acetaminophen</a> or <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/ibuprofen.html/">ibuprofen</a> based on the package recommendations for age or weight.</p> <p><strong>Never give aspirin</strong> to children or teens, as such use has been linked to <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/reye.html/">Reye syndrome</a>, a rare but serious condition that can be fatal.</p> <p>Many experts now believe that there's usually no reason to give over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants and antihistamines to any child younger than 6. There's little proof that these medicines work, and decongestants can cause hallucinations, irritability, and irregular heartbeats, particularly in infants.</p> <h3>Can Colds Be Prevented?</h3> <p>Because so many viruses cause colds, there isn't a vaccine to protect against them. To help avoid catching one, kids should:</p> <ul> <li>steer clear of anyone who has a cold&nbsp;</li> <li>avoid <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/secondhand-smoke.html/">secondhand smoke</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/hand-washing.html/">wash their hands</a> well and often, especially after blowing their noses</li> <li>sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbow, not into their hands</li> <li>not share towels, drinking glasses, or eating utensils with someone who has a cold</li> <li>not pick up other people's used tissues</li> </ul> <p>Experts aren't sure whether taking extra zinc or vitamin C can limit how long cold symptoms last or how severe they become, but large doses taken every day <em>can</em> cause negative side effects. Studies on herbal remedies, like echinacea, are either negative or aren't conclusive. Few good scientific studies of these treatments have been done in kids.</p> <p>Talk to your doctor before you give your child any herbal remedy or more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of any vitamin or supplement.</p> <h3>How Can I Help My Child?</h3> <p>To help ease cold discomfort, you can:</p> <ul> <li>put saline (saltwater) drops in the nostrils to relieve nasal congestion</li> <li>run a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture</li> <li>dab petroleum jelly on the skin under the nose to soothe rawness</li> <li>give hard candy or cough drops to relieve sore throat (only for kids older than 6)</li> <li>run a warm bath or use a heating pad to soothe aches and pains</li> <li>run a hot shower to create a steam-filled bathroom where your child can sit to help clear stuffiness</li> </ul> <p>What about chicken soup? There's no real proof that eating it can cure a cold, but sick people have been swearing by it for more than 800 years. Chicken soup contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine, and some research shows that chicken soup helps control congestion-causing white cells, called neutrophils.</p> <p>The best plan, though, is not to worry about whether to "feed a cold" or "starve a fever." Just make sure your child eats when hungry and drinks plenty of fluids like water or juice to help replace the fluids lost during a fever or from mucus production.</p> <h3>When to Call the Doctor</h3> <p>Always call the doctor if you think your child might have more than a cold, your child gets worse instead of better, or if your child has any of these symptoms:</p> <ul> <li>coughing up a lot of mucus</li> <li>shortness of breath</li> <li>unusual lethargy/tiredness</li> <li>inability to keep food or liquids down or poor fluid intake</li> <li>increasing headache or facial or throat pain</li> <li>severely painful sore throat that interferes with swallowing</li> <li>fever of 103&deg;F (39.3&deg;C) or higher, or a fever of 101&deg;F (38.0&deg;C) or higher that lasts for more than a day</li> <li>chest or stomach pain</li> <li>swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck</li> <li>earache</li> </ul> <p>Like most viral infections, colds just have to run their course. Getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids &mdash; juice and water &mdash; can help your child feel better while on the mend.</p> <p>Keeping up regular activities like going to school probably won't make a cold any worse. But it <em>will</em> increase the likelihood that the cold will spread to classmates or friends. So you might want to put some daily routines aside until your child is feeling better.</p> <div class="rs_skip rs_preserve"><!-- TinyMCE Fix --> <script src="//familysurvey.org/misc/javascript/js_apps/video/kh-video-metadata.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="//familysurvey.org/misc/javascript/js_apps/video/kh-video-controller.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="//familysurvey.org/misc/javascript/js_apps/video/single-well-child-antibiotics-en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> </div>Resfriado comúnEl resfriado común es una infección contagiosa de origen viral que afecta a las vías respiratorias superiores. Los niños pueden llegar a contraer ocho o más resfriados al año.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/es/parents/cold-esp.html/d5cba3b6-0858-4294-bbd7-5b302c48ae19
Coping With ColdsMost teens get between two and four colds each year. Read this article for the facts on colds and ways to feel better when you catch one.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/colds.html/dd5a6c53-60f6-4e16-ad82-61dddcad1910
CoughingCoughs are a common symptom, but most aren't a sign of a serious condition. Learn about different coughs, how to help your child feel better, and when to call your doctor.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/childs-cough.html/68554637-7469-4d09-8ba7-5bb9211fcd47
First Aid: Common ColdKids can get up to eight colds a year - or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/common-cold-sheet.html/f9dd685a-6973-4a14-bf84-2fbfc63dd908
Germs: Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, and ProtozoaGerms are tiny organisms that can cause disease - and they're so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/care-about-germs.html/59b8feef-766a-4272-ac83-38140b1d176a
Hand Washing: Why It's So ImportantWashing your hands well and often is the best way to keep from getting sick. Here's how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/hand-washing.html/1751c1fa-461c-4b39-9003-a19c00f8549d
Is It a Cold, the Flu, or COVID-19?Your child has a sore throat, cough, and a high fever. Is it COVID-19? Could it be the flu? Or just a cold? Here are tips on what to look for — and what to do.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/flu-vs-cold.html/cb514324-80d8-4189-bf6b-4463fc30a15c
Respiratory Syncytial VirusRespiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this contagious infection.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/rsv.html/c2c86da2-f08c-4d9a-b6c2-22d4d117778a
SinusitisSinus infections, or sinusitis, are common and easily treated.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sinusitis.html/98e3dd54-b0fb-4390-98f2-2ca7053934f4
Walking PneumoniaMany kids with this milder version of pneumonia feel well enough to go to school. But it's important to keep kids home until after treatment kicks in and symptoms improve.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/walking-pneumonia.html/3fee2d59-629a-4619-9a8b-5e6f8ba5824b
What Are Germs?You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/germs.html/cd877075-9d39-4c9a-b4f8-d67cb341050f
When Sinuses Attack!Sinuses are hollow spaces in your head that can fill with mucus when you're all stuffed up. Find out more in this article for kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/sinuses.html/cd07d6e2-ade3-4c90-b6e3-1bf9922f5b78
Why Do I Need to Wash My Hands?Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Learn all about the best way to wash your hands in this article for kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/wash-hands.html/ae19eff8-ac7c-44be-bd9f-b2efe6953f6d
Why Does My Nose Run?You may have heard the old joke: If your nose is running and your feet smell, you must be upside down! But did you ever wonder why your nose runs?https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/nose-run.html/cdbf274b-b756-447d-aff8-08bc035242b5
kh:age-allAgesOrAgeAgnostickh:clinicalDesignation-generalPediatricskh:genre-articlekh:primaryClinicalDesignation-generalPediatricsCold & Flu Reviewhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/infections/cold-flu-review/1396df9e-4f6e-4b0e-9616-83ad14091708Bacterial & Viral Infectionshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/infections/bacterial-viral/401507d2-7822-44aa-8109-e54dc4c18e61Common Childhood Infectionshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/infections/common/e4866969-66b0-471f-a791-8849a3764018