COMMON CHILDHOOD ILLNESSES
COUGH & COLD
A cold is a very common illness in children. Most children will average 8 to 10 colds in their first two years of life. If your child has older siblings or is in daycare, he may have more. Colds are easily passed between children who are in close contact to each other. The cold will most likely start with a clear runny nose, then turning into a yellow or greenish discharge. Other symptoms include sneezing, low fever, decrease in appetite, fussiness and mild cough. A typical cold will resolve itself in 7 days. If the symptoms worsen or your child is under the age of 3 months, call our office for an appointment.
There are a few at home treatments you can give your child to help treat a cold.
• Nasal Drops – If your child has thick mucus, use saline nasal drops to help clear the nostril. Also use a nasal aspirator to help clear the mucus.
• Fluids – Your child should drink plenty of fluids. Even if your child doesn’t have an appetite, continue to offer a drink.
• Sit up – Have your baby sit in an infant chair or swing while awake to help keep their nose clear. Laying down flat can also fill up the nose more.
• Paracetamol – If your child has a fever and is irritable, paracetamol may be appropriate. Consult with your doctor.
Ear infections usually begin with a viral infection such as a cold. An ear infection is caused by fluid or mucus build-up in the middle ear.
Symptoms to look for include:
• ear pain,
• tugging or pulling at the ear,
• difficulty sleeping,
• unusual crying,
• loss of balance,
• fever over 100°F,
• drainage from the ear,
• loss of appetite.
Croup causes a swelling of the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). Due to the swelling, the airway below the vocal cords becomes narrow and makes breathing difficult and noisy.
Croup is most commonly due to an infection. It most often affects children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years. It can occur at any time but is most common in the fall and winter. The cough sounds like the bark of a seal.
If your child develops croup in the middle of the night, go into the bathroom and shut the door. Run the shower on the hottest setting and let the room steam up. This should help with his breathing within 15 to 20 minutes. The steam almost always works but if it does not, take him outside into the cool air.
If your child is not improving, go to the nearest emergency room. If your child has croup, call our office in the morning for an appointment for evaluation.
If your child has a fever, that means he is fighting an infection. It is the body’s normal response.
There are several types of thermometers. For children under 4 or 5 years of age, you should take their temperature rectally. Your child has a fever if he has a rectal or oral temperature over 100.4°F. If you cannot check the termperature orally, you should take it rectally. Ear and forehead temperatures can be inaccurate.
Make sure your child is drinking plenty of liquids and he is wearing minimal clothing. Bundling him can cause a higher temperature. If your child has a fever or seems uncomfortable, medication may be necessary.
- If your child is under 2 months of age and has a fever he should go to the emergency room immediately.
- Do not give babies under the age of 3 months medication until speaking with your pediatrician.