Colds are caused by viruses. There are about 200 different viruses that cause colds. Children can get 8 – 10 colds per year. Adults get fewer colds because they have built up immunity against some of the viruses. Antibiotics do not work against cold viruses.
- Wash your hands to prevent spread of the viruses that cause colds.
- Teach your children to wash their hands.
- Wash objects and toys that are shared with others.
- Runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough and, at the beginning, headache, fever and watery eyes.
- Fluid from the nose is clear at first but turns thick yellow or green within 2 – 3 days. This does not mean it is a bacterial infection.
- Colds sometimes come with a cough, which can be worse at night.
- A cold usually lasts for 4 – 7 days. It might take as long as three weeks to fully recover.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice. Warm clear fluids such as soup will help the nose to drain. Offer these to your child if your child has a cold.
- Get plenty of rest or allow your child to rest.
- Use salt-water (saline) nose drops to treat stuffiness and cough, especially for infants and toddlers. Use commercial salt-water drops or spray or make your own.
- A decongestant or cough syrup might help symptoms but will not shorten the length of the cold. NOTE: Do not give these products to infants or children under the age of six years without first talking with your doctor. NOTE: Decongestants and cough syrup might also contain fever reducing medication. Read labels carefully and check with your pharmacist or doctor to avoid overdosing.
- If you have a cold or are caring for someone with a cold, wash your hands often to prevent infecting others.
- For further information on Fever, please see More Fever Links.
Salt Water Drops
- Mix together:
½ cup (125 ml) warm water*
¼ tsp non-iodized salt
- You may add:
¼ tsp baking soda
- Prepare fresh every day.
- Position child so that head is slightly back.
- Use a medicine dropper to put 1 – 2 drops in each nostril.
- Repeat 4 to 5 times per day.
*Use water that has been filtered, distilled or boiled for one minute and allowed to cool.
When to seek medical attention:
Children: See your doctor if your child’s. . .
- Fever returns or symptoms worsen 5-10 days after first becoming sick.
- Yellow or green nasal discharge lasts longer than 10 days.
Adults: Adults should consult their doctor, nurse practitioner or provincial health help line if symptoms worsen or are unusually severe.