The Common Cold

Runny nose, slight fever and loss of appetite are common symptoms during the flu season. However, parents often ponder upon the basic requirements to take care of their little ones when affected by viral infections.

What Causes The Common Cold

There are thousands of viral species that cause cold – like symptoms. The most common one is the family of rhinoviruses. Others include respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus, enterovirus and parainfluenza virus. The influenza virus is also widely known to cause related symptoms, however the intensity of the flu caused by influenza virus is much more than the other mentioned viruses.

What Symptoms Do I Look Out For?

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion are the most frequent ones parents notice first. This can also extend to difficulty with breathing, which is noticed as noisy breathing through a blocked nose.
  • A low grade fever is also noticed. This can range in between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above this requires immediate medical attention.
  • Muscle aches and general body aches.
  • Loss of appetite, with reduced number of feedings in a day.
  • Cough, follows some infections. This can be a low pitched cough and depending on the virus the intensity increases.
  • Eyes can be watery and red.
  • Your baby will be irritable and will cry frequently.
  • Sleep is often disturbed and your baby may wake up several times a night.
  • Rarely you may note some swollen lymph nodes in the neck and behind the ears.

How Do I Manage These Symptoms At Home?

In babies under nine months of age it is ideal to visit with your paediatrician when any concerning symptoms arise. The first thing to remember is to remain calm and also be aware of the fact that viral fevers can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. So if there is no immediate relief of symptoms, just remain patient and observe your baby for the next few days.

Some therapeutic measures that can be initiated at home:

  • Paracetamol: It is ideal to keep infant’s / toddler’s paracetamol at home. However, before administering it to your baby, ensure you confirm the dosages with your paediatrician.
  • Hydration: Below 6 months of age, breast milk and formula milk are the essential modes of hydration. After six months oral rehydration solution along with other therapeutic measures can be used.
  • Saline and suction: Many babies find it difficult to feed with congested nostrils. A few drops of saline can be put into the nostrils using a dropper. Then a suction bulb, is used to suck out the softened mucus from each nostril.
  • Humidifier: This helps to moisten the air in the room your baby is sleeping in. This moistened air is easy to breathe in. A few drops of eucalyptus oil can be added to the humidifier to ease congestion.
  • Honey: Slightly warmed honey helps to soothe a sore throat. However, this is strictly advised for toddlers over one year of age.

These are a few techniques concerned parents can try at home, during the cold and flu season. However, if your baby is running a fever that lasts for more than two days it is best to consult with a paediatrician. Other symptoms to watch out for include a worsening cough, pulling of the ears, extreme fussiness and unwillingness to eat.

The best way to tackling the common cold this season is by examining your baby on the whole, and determining what the best treatment outcome is for your child.

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