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    Common cold in children: Causes, symptoms, and home remedies that aid faster recovery

    Dr V Shreevidya Dr V Shreevidya 4 Mins Read

    Dr V Shreevidya Dr V Shreevidya

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    Are you worried about your child's constant cold? Find out what you can do to limit the spread of infection. Further, try these simple kitchen cures for that much-needed relief!

    Toddler to Pre-teen
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    Common cold in children: Causes, symptoms, and home remedies that aid faster recovery

    Are you worried that your child catches cold often? The upper respiratory tract, which includes the mouth, nose, throat, larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe), is vulnerable to frequent infections. Upper Respiratory tract Infections (URIs) range from rhino pharyngitis (common cold) to life-threatening illnesses such as epiglottitis, which is an inflammation of the tissue that covers the trachea.

    Symptoms

    Viruses account for most of the URIs, which are usually self-treated. Symptoms of common cold include one or more of the following:

    • Sneezing
    • Running nose
    • Sore throat
    • Cough
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Headache

    How common cold spreads

    • The virus can spread from one person to another. It is contagious and accounts for most URIs.
    • Bacteria or viruses are transferred when a hand exposed to the pathogens touches the nose or mouth or by directly inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person.
    • The incubation period varies from 1 to 14 days.
    • Most symptoms of URIs, including swelling, redness, secretions and fever, result from the inflammatory response of the immune system to the invading viruses.
    • A nasopharyngeal infection may spread to adjacent areas of the body, resulting in sinusitis (inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which are air cavities in the cranial bones near the nose), epiglottitis or pneumonia.

    Prevention

    • Ensure that your child washes his hands regularly.
    • Cups and glasses used by infected children should be washed immediately before another child drinks from it.
    • Used towels, handkerchiefs and napkins should be washed thoroughly.
    • Used tissues and paper napkins should be disposed off immediately.
    • Doorknobs, remote controls, light switches and telephones should be wiped at regular intervals.
    • Wipe clean the common items that the child uses.
    • The child should avoid sudden temperature differences, (like stepping into an air-conditioned room soon after a piping hot bath) which could make him vulnerable to cold.
    • Stress (particularly exam stress), inadequate sleep, improper nutrition can bring down the body's resistance to colds.

    What to keep in mind

    • If the symptoms worsen after the third day, consult a doctor.
    • If it is a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
    • Your General Practitioner (GP) or paediatrician is the best person to prescribe the right antibiotics.
    • Vaccines are recommended for children to prevent serious complications from seasonal URIs.
    • Never have antibiotics without a prescription.

    When to consult a doctor

    • The temperature is 100°F or higher
    • The sore throat worsens to hoarseness of voice
    • There is difficulty in swallowing
    • Nasal secretions turn thick and are yellow or green in colour

    Home remedies

    Since the common cold is caused by a virus, there is little medication to cure the condition. Natural remedies can help facilitate recovery and provide relief from distressing symptoms. Try the following home remedies with ingredients right from the kitchen.

    • Lemon and honey mixed in warm water can be consumed twice a day. Vitamin C in lemon improves the body's resistance and lowers the toxic nature of the infection.
    • Salt water gargling may also soothe an itchy throat. If your child has a sore throat or throat infection, encourage her to gargle her mouth with lukewarm salted water. For younger kids who do not know how to gargle, show them how to do so.
    • Before going to bed, the child could have a glass of milk mixed with turmeric and ginger. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric can ease the symptoms of a cold.
    • If your child has a runny nose, he can inhale the vapours of turmeric or eucalyptus oil added to hot water. The vapours inhaled, cause a discharge of the mucus, thus clearing congestion.
    • If your child is sick, she should drink plenty of fluids like water, soups (chicken, vegetables or even clear soup) and herbal tea. Drinking fluids prevent dehydration and keep the throat moist.
    • Avoid cold and caffeinated drinks.

    Make sure your child takes good rest and stays warm and hydrated. This will ensure that the body directs its energy towards fighting the cold efficiently.

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