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The Common Cold

While having a cold isn’t fun for anyone, it’s important to understand key points about the cold virus so that you can make informed decisions about your family’s health and safety. Every parent wants to protect their children from illness, but in some cases, it can’t be avoided. Most children have between 8 and 10 colds within the first two years of their lives. Raleigh Group is here to help answer some of your questions.

What is the Common Cold?

The common cold is a virus that manifests most commonly as an upper respiratory infection. Most people have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between a cold and the flu. While they share similar symptoms, they’re caused by different viruses and the onset of the flu is very sudden. It’s estimated that more than 200 different viruses can cause a cold. While unpleasant, the common cold doesn’t generally present serious health issues and normally they resolve on their own.

What Causes a Common Cold?

A cold can be contracted in a variety of ways but is spread the same way any other virus is. The most common way a cold is spread is via coughing or sneezing. When we breathe in a cough or sneeze from someone with the virus, we get sick. A cold can also be transferred via shared surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, and toys. By touching these surfaces and then touching our eyes, mouth, or nose, we can catch a cold.

Are Common Colds Contagious?

Colds are fairly contagious simply by the nature of their transmission. It is difficult to determine just how many cold cases there are a year because they’re so common. It’s estimated that adults alone have between 2 and 4 colds a year, and those numbers go up for children, averaging roughly 6 to 8 colds annually.

As is the case, it’s important to instill healthy hygiene habits like handwashing and mask-wearing during peak cold and flu seasons.

What are the Symptoms of a Common Cold?

Common symptoms for a cold include:

  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Chest discomfort and/or cough
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

As we mentioned, colds don’t typically result in serious health problems. However, they can really make you feel awful. It’s important to remember that your child may have difficulty communicating how they feel. You know your children best, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us for guidance.

How Long Do Common Colds Last?

A cold tends to come on a little slower than something like the flu, and begin within 2 to 3 days after being infected. After that, symptoms can last anywhere between 2 and 10 days. A sore throat can be a good indicator that a cold is coming on. Children with sore throats may not want to eat or drink much due to pain, so it’s important to make sure they stay well hydrated with water, juice, or electrolyte products made for children such as Pedialyte®. These days, there are even popsicles that help little ones stay hydrated that are particularly good for sore throats!

How Are Common Colds Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. Your pediatrician can recommend medicine to help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms like aches, fever, or headaches. That being said, children’s Tylenol® or Motrin® are great for controlling fever and other pains. Always double-check the dosage options for children, and if you’re not sure, call your pediatrician.

(Note: Never give your children Asprin, it can be fatal.)

When Should I Call My Pediatrician at Raleigh Group?

No matter the issue, our knowledgeable pediatricians are here to help. While a cold usually goes away on its own with fluids and rest, there are some symptoms you should watch for.

  • Coughing up excess mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Can’t keep food or liquids down
  • Unable to swallow
  • Consistently high fever that won’t break
  • Earache

If your child develops any of these symptoms, call your pediatrician to schedule a sick-child visit or a Telemedicine appointment. Additionally, try our Symptom Checker to get quick answers to common sicknesses.  Raleigh Group has been helping families in Memphis and surrounding areas stay well and get better, season after season.  For more information, reach out.