For primary care physicians, office visits for coughing kids are common. In addition to the cost of such visits, Americans spend some $3.5 billion a year on over the counter (OTC) cough and cold remedies and often give them to young children.
The best you can do is to make your child comfortable until the flu and cold tide is over.
- Saline nasal drops or sprays can help loosen secretions from a cold and lubricate the nasal and sinus passages. These drops can be instilled twice a day.
- Elevating the head of the bed can make the baby breathe easier by preventing the pooling of cough in the nose. Place a firm pillow under the mattress (and not in your baby's crib).
- Sticky, stubborn mucus: Use a wet cotton swab to gently clear the sticky mucus around the nose.
- For children older than one year with viral flu, we recommend 1.5 teaspoons of honey in some warm water prior to bedtime as a cough remedy. Honey soothes the throat and helps the child sleep better.
- Drinking plenty of fluids for hydration: Regardless of age, when suffering from a cold and cough, keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This helps clear excess mucus in the sinuses.
- Chicken soups and warm vegetable broths help in soothing the throat and relieving congestion in the chest. Warm milk with a pinch of turmeric works as well.
- Hard candy or lozenges are available over the counter for kids more than 6 years of age. These contain numbing substances to soothe a scratchy throat.
- A cool, mist humidifier helps keep the air in the house humid and relieves the symptoms because dry air worsens the cough and cold.
Can you give over the counter cough and cold syrups to your child?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) recommends that children under the age of 2 years should never be given OTC cough or cold medications. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued strict warnings about the use of OTC cough and cold preparations in children younger than 6 years.
The OTC syrups of many companies contain combinations of medications. Read the labels carefully to ensure that they contain only the ingredients that are considered safe for infants and children. For children younger than 3 months old, do not give acetaminophen until your baby’s doctor has prescribed it.
Tylenol/Panadol (acetaminophen) or Motrin/Advil (ibuprofen) may be used for fever and pain in older children. Do not give Aspirin to infants younger than 16 years because of a complication called Reye syndrome.
Many cold medicines already have acetaminophen in them. If you give one of these medicines along with extra acetaminophen, your child will get a double dose and get the unwanted side effects; some of which can be serious.
How to prevent your child from getting a cold?
Here are a few everyday tips that you can follow to keep your child away from cold:
- Wash your hands often. The infection-causing germs are most commonly spread through the frequent touching of surfaces, such as door handles, toys, and your own hands because the germs linger on these surfaces.
- Avoid others who are sick. The mucous droplets expelled by the sick through sneezing or coughing can infect the healthy ones in proximity. Teach children not to share drinkware or utensils with others.
- Keep affected surfaces clean. To help keep germs off nightstands and coffee tables, among other places, tell your children to throw used tissues in the toilet or in a trash can. Use bleach-based wipes to disinfect shared items, appliances, and other surfaces.
When to call a doctor?
For all children, call a doctor if you see any of the following signs and symptoms:
- A fever in an infant of 2 months of age or younger
- A fever of 104° F or higher at any age
- Signs of cyanosis, such as blue lips
- Nostrils widening with each breath
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Not eating or drinking with signs of dehydration (such as decreased urination)
- Excessive crankiness or sleepiness
- Persistent ear pain
- Cough lasting for more than a week
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/medication-safety/Pages/How-to-Manage-Colds-and-Flu.aspx
Ashkin E, Mounsey A. PURLs: A Spoonful of Honey Helps a Coughing Child Sleep. J Fam Pract. 2013;62(3):145-147. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601686/
Top What Do You Give a Child With a Cold? Related Articles
Children's Cold, Fever & FluColds and fevers are some of the most common ailments in children. Learn common cold symptoms, treatment options, over the counter (OTC) medicines for cold and fever, home remedies, how to relieve a sore throat, how to bring down a high temperature, whether chicken soup works, and more.
Cold & Flu QuizAches? Pain? Fever? This Cold & Flu Quiz tests your knowledge on the difference between coming down with the common cold and sickness from influenza virus.
Cold Agglutinin DiseaseCold agglutinin hemolytic anemia or cold agglutinin hemolytic disease, is rare disorder of the autoimmune system. There are two types of cold agglutinin disease, primary and secondary. Characteristics, symptoms, and signs of in cold agglutinin disease are premature destruction of red blood cells in the body’s natural defense antibodies.
The lifespan of red blood cells is approximately 120 before the spleen destroys the antibodies. In cold agglutinin disease, the severity of the condition is determined by how long it takes for the red blood cells to survive, and at the rate that the bone marrow continues to produce more red cells. Immune hemolytic anemias are classified by the optimal temperature when the antibodies try to destroy red blood cells. Cold agglutinin anemia occurs at temperatures between 10 C (50 F) and 37 C (F 98.6) or above while the body warms antibody hemolytic anemia. Usually, cold agglutinin anemia becomes apparent between the ages of 50 to 60.
Other symptoms of the disease include fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fingers and/or toes are cold and sweat, an uneven bluish or reddish discoloration of the toes, ankles, and wrists (Raynaud's syndrome), and fingers. Usually, cold agglutinin anemia affects people that are older. The disease is diagnosed by a physical exam, and the Coomb's test. If the red blood cells destruction seem to be slowing on its own, treatment therapies, usually, isn’t needed. Other treatments for cold agglutinin anemia are corticosteroids, and splenectomy (removal of the spleen). There is no cure for cold agglutinin disease.
Cold vs. FluThough the common cold and flu share many signs and symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Signs and symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and cough. Treatment options for the cold and flu are similar and focus on reducing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe antivirals/neuraminidase inhibitors for the flu.
Cold, Flu, Allergy TreatmentsBefore treating a cold, the flu, or allergies with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it's important to know what's causing the symptoms, which symptoms one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredients in the OTC product. Taking products that only contain the medications needed for relieving your symptoms prevents ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects.
Common ColdThe common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Cold Prevention SlidesThe common cold is arguably the most common human illness. Learn how long the common cold lasts, treatment for the common cold and ways to prevent it.
Common Cold QuizTake this quiz to learn the truth behind the infectious, contagious, uncomfortable disease known as the common cold. Test your knowledge of colds; get prevention tips, and learn what you may want to avoid when treating a cold!
COVID-19 vs. Flu vs. ColdWhen you're feeling sick, it can be difficult to distinguish the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection from the symptoms of the common cold or the flu (influenza). While fever is common with the flu and COVID-19, sneezing is typically only associated with colds. Though sore throats are typical with colds, they are uncommon with COVID-19 infections and the flu.
Foods for the FluThe best foods to eat when you have the flu soothe symptoms and help you feel better faster. Good foods to eat with the flu include popsicles, turkey, vegetable juice, chicken soup, garlic, ginger, hot tea, bananas, toast, meal replacement drinks, oranges, pumpkin seeds, and carrots.
Using Superficial Heat and Cold Applications for TreatmentSuperficial heat and cold therapy are adjunctive therapy used for pain control and sports injury treatment. These therapies exert their effects at a depth of 1-2 cm. In general, these therapies limit tissue damage, control symptoms and restore the function of the injured part.
How Do You Get Rid of a Cold Overnight?Cold symptoms are part of your body’s healing processes. Most of the time, it does not require any help. However, you can get rid of a cold faster, even overnight, by resting, drinking hot fluids, blowing your nose, gargling with salt water, taking a hot shower, using a humidifier and taking OTC pain relievers and decongestants.
How Long Is a Cold or Flu Contagious?Viruses cause the common cold and the flu. Early symptoms and signs for a cold and the flu are similar, however, flu symptoms are typically more severe than cold symptoms. Cold and flu viruses are transmitted typically via coughing or sneezing.
Adenovirus 14 (Killer Cold Virus)Adenovirus infection, particularly Ad14, or the "killer cold virus" has been on the increase in the past two years. Symptoms range from those experienced with colds, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pinkeye, fever, bladder infection, and neurological conditions. Diagnosis and treatment options need to be discussed with your physician.
How to Differentiate Between the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19, Allergies, Cold, and Flu?Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without the need for intensive or special treatment. Serious illness is more likely in elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.
Cold, Flu, and Cough: Things That Suppress Your Immune SystemA strong immune system is your best protection against infections and illnesses. Find out what can weaken that defense.