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Helping Your Child Deal With Colds
The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory system, meaning it only affects the throat, nose and ears. It is usually caused by a virus, most often the rhinovirus or coronavirus, but more than 200 viruses can cause colds. Because there are so many, it’s nearly impossible to create a vaccine or shot that will prevent you or your child from catching a cold.
How Your Child Can Catch a Cold
When a person has a cold, mucus builds up in the nose. When that person coughs or sneezes, it sends tiny amounts of virus-filled mucus into the air. If your child is anywhere near this person, he or she could inhale these virus-filled mucus droplets and catch a cold.
Another way your child can catch a cold is if he or she touches rubs his or her eyes or nose after touching an object that a sick person has touched and transferred cold viruses. Your child may catch a cold in crowded places such as a shopping mall, his school or daycare center. Doorknobs, food and drink and school desks can all be breeding grounds for viruses.
When your child has a cold, the virus attaches itself to the inside of his nose. The virus then takes control of the cells that line your child’s nose and starts creating more viruses.
Sneezing is a common symptom of colds. A person or child with a cold sneezes because the nerves sense the irritation in the nose and signal the lungs to send a blast of air through the nose and mouth. A sneeze can travel as fast as 100 miles per hour or even faster.
Colds Signs and Symptoms
Illnesses offer clues that let you and your child’s doctor know that your child is sick. These clues are called symptoms. When your child has a cold, the symptoms will last for a few days. Check if your child has any of the following symptoms:
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion or stuffy nose that makes breathing difficult
• Watery eyes
• Itching or sore throat
• Body chills
• Low fever (37.2 to 37.8 °C or 100 to 101 °F)
• Feeling tired
• Loss of appetite
If your child has one or more of these symptoms, he or she most likely has a cold.
How to Help Your Child Feel Better
Colds usually go away on their own. However, it is good to know that our bodies have a built-in cold cure, the immune system. Our immune system helps our bodies fight disease. It sends white blood cells to fight whatever is causing the illness, which in this case is the cold virus, and causes cold symptoms.
Although there are no vaccines or medications available that can actually cure a cold, what you can do is ease the symptoms of your child’s cold to help him or her feel better. Here are some of the things you can do:
• Give your child warm food and drinks. Warm foods and drinks soothe coughs and soothe sore throats by helping to clear mucus. One of the most popular foods for colds is chicken soup.
• Steam. Giving your child a steam bath helps clear a stuffy nose. You can also run a humidifier to soothe an irritated throat.
• Have your child blow his nose to clear mucus.
• Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.
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