Common Cold in Children: Causes & Prevention


Common Cold in Children: Causes & Prevention :DocTubeBlog

Common cold is one of the most predominant problems faced by children. The incessant sniffles, coughs and crankiness can leave both children and their parents feeling weary. However, understanding the causes, effective management strategies and prevention techniques can empower parents to navigate through the challenges of the common cold with confidence.

The common cold, caused primarily by rhinoviruses, is a highly contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (Heikkinen, T. and Järvinen, A., 2003. The common cold. The Lancet, 361(9351), pp.51-59). Children, especially those attending daycare or school, are particularly susceptible due to their developing immune systems and close proximity to other children. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact with contaminated surfaces. To get the best insights on the common cold and children, refer to DocTube.


Identifying the symptoms of the common cold is crucial for prompt management. Children may exhibit a range of symptoms, including:
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Common Risk Factors 

It is important to note that all children are at risk for the common cold and cough. They are usually more likely than adults to suffer from cold. Some of the most common risk factors may be identified as the following:

i) Less resistance

The immune system in children is not as strong as adults when it comes to fighting cold and flu germs.

ii) Seasonal changes

Respiratory illnesses are mostly common during winter, when the children are indoors and when the humidity drops substantially (Allan, G.M. and Arroll, B., 2014. Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence. Cmaj, 186(3), pp.190-199). This makes the passages in their nose drier thereby putting them at a higher risk for infection.

iii) Daycare or school

Common cold spreads easily when children remain in close contact with one another in schools and daycare centers. 

iv) Hand-to-mouth contact

Children are more likely to touch their mouth, eyes and nose without washing their hands and this is one of the most common ways in which the germs spread, thereby making them ill.

Management Strategies

While there is no cure for the common cold, various strategies can help alleviate symptoms and support the body's natural healing process:

i) Hydration

Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, including water and clear broths to stay hydrated and loosen mucus.

ii) Rest

Ensure your child gets adequate rest to allow the body to fight off the infection (Fashner, J., Ericson, K. and Werner, S., 2012. Treatment of the common cold in children and adults. American family physician, 86(2), pp.153-159). Encourage quiet activities and limit strenuous physical activity.

iii) Humidification

Use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer in your child's room to help relieve nasal congestion and soothe irritated airways.

iv) Saline Nasal Drops

Saline nasal drops or sprays can help alleviate nasal congestion and clear mucus from the nasal passages (Van Driel, M.L., Scheire, S., Deckx, L., Gevaert, P. and De Sutter, A., 2018. What treatments are effective for common cold in adults and children?. Bmj, 363). Use as directed, especially before feeding or bedtime.

v) Over-the-counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications can help reduce fever and alleviate discomfort. However, always consult with a pediatrician before giving any medication to your child.

vi) Honey

For children over the age of one, honey can be an effective and natural cough suppressant. Mix a teaspoon of honey with warm water or herbal tea to soothe a sore throat and calm coughing.

vii) Nasal Suction

For infants and children who are unable to blow their noses, nasal suction devices can help remove excess mucus and improve breathing (Cabaillot, A., Vorilhon, P., Roca, M., Boussageon, R., Eschalier, B. and Pereirad, B., 2020. Saline nasal irrigation for acute upper respiratory tract infections in infants and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Paediatric respiratory reviews, 36, pp.151-158).

Prevention of Common Cold in Children

Preventing the common cold involves implementing practical measures to reduce the risk of exposure and bolster the immune system:

i) Hand Hygiene

Encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water, especially before meals, after using the restroom and after coughing or sneezing.

ii) Respiratory Hygiene

Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their elbow when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of germs (Allan, G.M. and Arroll, B., 2014. Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence. Cmaj, 186(3), pp.190-199).

iii) Avoidance of Sick Individuals

Limit exposure to individuals who are sick with cold-like symptoms and encourage the child to maintain distance from others if they are feeling unwell.

iv) Healthy Lifestyle

Promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging regular physical activity, a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and adequate sleep to support a strong immune system.

v) Immunizations

Stay up-to-date with recommended vaccinations, including the flu vaccine, to protect against certain viral infections that can lead to cold-like symptoms (Montesinos-Guevara, C., Buitrago-Garcia, D., Felix, M.L., Guerra, C.V., Hidalgo, R., Martinez-Zapata, M.J. and Simancas-Racines, D., 2022. Vaccines for the common cold. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (12)).

While the common cold may be an inevitable part of childhood, proactive measures can help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms and minimize the risk of transmission to others. By prioritizing hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and overall wellness, parents can empower their children to navigate through the common cold and cough with resilience and vigor. With patience, rest and proper care, your child will soon be back to their vibrant, healthy selves.


  Which kinds of foods must be given to children suffering from a common cold and cough?  

When children suffer from the common cold, they must be given foods like citrus fruits, broth, bananas, berries, carrots, cherries, garlic, ginger, pepper, pomegranate juice, soups and honey.

  What are the primary causes of continuous cold and cough in a child?  

Continuous colds and coughs in children may be caused by virus infections, asthma, allergies or chronic infections in their airways or sinuses.


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