There’s some truth to the “catch cold” notion, so prevention is key to staying healthy. Yet at some point children’s cold relief will require some simple treatments.

Catching a Cold

Years ago researchers exposed volunteers to a group of viruses known to cause the majority of colds.

Researchers gave half the volunteers the virus (squirted into their noses) in comfortable surroundings. Then they kept the other half in a cold, wet, and otherwise miserable environment.

The cold, wet volunteers developed symptoms more frequently than the comfortable ones. This suggests that the cold, wet environment did bring on catching the cold virus.

Other factors that make winter a high-risk time for colds.  We are closer to one another for longer periods of time each day.

Also the inside humidity is usually low. This drys out our skin, our eyes, and our upper airways. Dryness makes it easier for the viruses to penetrate our natural defenses.

Children’s Cold Relief: Prevention

Prevention measures can significantly reduce the risk of colds.

The most important prevention measures in children’s cold relief includes frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers.

As children get older, teach them to cough or sneeze into their sleeves when around others.

Keep babies in the first three months of life away from crowded places during cold season.  After this age, their bodies can better manage colds.

Children’s Cold Relief: Treatment

The term “common cold” refers to a group of symptoms we all know: cough, fever, congestion, runny nose, and scratchy throat.

If a child develops cold symptoms, parents should focus on keeping him or her comfortable at home.

Babies have an especially hard time with colds.  They automatically breathe through their noses. Older children naturally switch to their mouths.

Decongestants are generally unsafe for babies. To clear congestion in babies, parents should use saline. Parents can put saline nose drops into the baby’s nose and wait a few moments. Then suction each nostril with a nasal suction bulb.

Make sure to do this just before nursing or bottle feeding and sleep. Babies do not like this, but they feel much better afterwards.

Tylenol and Motrin will help relieve the discomfort.

Even in children over the age of 2, decongestants and cough medicines offer little benefit in children’s cold relief.

In children over the age of 1 year, honey mixed in warm water has been proven to reduce cough. In older children, mint tea sweetened with honey is often comforting.

Children over the age of 6 can safely take OTC decongestants.  Antihistamines are of marginal benefit, but may help children sleep.

When to Seek Advice

Signs of complications of a cold include fever later in the course of the illness.

Call your doctor if your child seems to be getting worse rather than gradually improving.

Infants are at special risk with respiratory infections.  Your infant may show signs of difficulty breathing or breathing may take a lot of effort. If so, see your pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner.