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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Brenner Children’s pediatric emergency department has moved back to its original location. Learn more

In order to help protect patients, family members and health care workers from the spread of COVID-19, no visitors are allowed at any of Wake Forest Baptist Health’s outpatient or inpatient facilities, except in certain situations.
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More COVID-19 Updates

First Aid: Common Cold

First Aid: Common Cold

First Aid

Kids can get eight colds a year — or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness. Most colds are caused by a specific type of virus found in the air and on the things we touch. The prescription for the common cold is simple: time, rest, and TLC.

Signs and Symptoms

  • stuffy or runny nose (may start out watery, then turn thick yellow or green)
  • itchy or sore throat
  • sneezing
  • cough
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite

What to Do

  • Ease discomfort with:
    • acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed (check package for correct amount)
    • a cool-mist humidifier or steamy bathroom
    • saline (saltwater) drops for the nostrils
    • gentle suction of nasal mucus using a bulb syringe when necessary
  • Offer lots of fluids (breast milk or formula for babies; water and juice for older kids — but no caffeinated beverages).
  • Never give cough or cold medicine to children under 2 years old. Call a doctor first for older kids.
  • Never give aspirin to a child.

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child Has:

  • cold symptoms that get worse or last more than a week
  • cough and congestion triggered by pollen, dust, pets, etc.
  • a barking cough or a cough that is severe and occurs in spasms
  • difficulty breathing
  • a high fever and appears ill; or any fever in a baby 3 months old or younger
  • a sore throat that makes eating and drinking difficult
  • a bad headache

Think Prevention!

Remind kids to:

  • avoid anyone who has a cold or smokes (secondhand smoke increases kids' risk of getting sick)
  • wash hands well and often, especially after nose-blowing and playing with other kids
  • sneeze and cough into shirtsleeves or tissues — not hands

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014