Usually, teens have a healthy immune system to cope with the common cold. Getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids can ease the symptoms. A warm bath or heating pad can soothe aches and pains, and the steam from a hot shower can help in better breathing. Most doctors recommend acetaminophen for aches, pains, and fever. In rare cases, doctors may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral treatment for a specific period of time.
What is the common cold?
A cold (common cold) is a viral infection. It affects the upper respiratory system that includes the nose, throat, and sinuses. The common cold is a self-limited contagious disease. Most teens get between two and four colds a year. The common cold is the most frequently occurring viral infection in the world, and it is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. The usual symptoms of common cold include the following:
Is the common cold contagious?
Common cold is usually caused by the virus group called rhinoviruses, which are highly contagious. The common cold spreads either by direct contact with infected secretions from contaminated surfaces or by inhaling the airborne virus after individuals sneeze or cough. Person-to-person transmission often occurs when an individual who has cold blows or touches their nose and then touches someone or something else. A healthy individual who then makes direct contact with these secretions can subsequently become infected. If the virus gets through the protective lining of the nose and throat, it triggers an immune reaction that can start symptoms of cold.
How long do symptoms of the common cold last in the body?
The duration of common cold in a body depends on a person’s immune system. Some individuals will develop very mild symptoms, whereas others may develop more severe symptoms. The type of symptoms may also vary, with some individuals developing only nasal congestion, whereas others may develop many or all of the symptoms described above. The symptoms that develop also depend on the underlying health of the person infected. Old people and people with diabetes generally are at a risk of secondary infection by a bacterium. Most colds will resolve after 7-10 days, although some individuals experience a shorter course and others a more prolonged illness, depending on the particular virus involved, as well as underlying health issues. If a teen or person has a weak immune system, they may need medical attention.
Does the common cold require a doctor’s attention?
Not everyone may require doctor supervision or attention for common cold because it is a self-limited contagious disease. However, teens with a weak immune system or preexisting respiratory infections such as asthma or pneumonia may require doctor supervision. A teen may need medical attention if they have below conditions:
- If cold symptoms last for more than a week or appear at the same time every year or whenever they are exposed to pollen, dust, animals, or some other substance (allergy)
- Trouble breathing or wheezes during cold (like asthma)
- Worsening symptoms
- Cough if lasts for more than two to three weeks
- Inability to keep food or liquids down
- Increasing headache or facial or throat pain
- Severe painful sore throat
- Fever of 103°F (39.3°C) or higher or a fever of 102°F (38.9°C) that lasts for more than a day
- Chest or stomach pain
- Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
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Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children
The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.
The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.
The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.
However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).
Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.
FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.
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