Colds are a virus infection in the nose and throat that can spread to the lower respiratory tracts. Most people in Denmark catch a cold once or several times a year. Children can catch six to eight colds a year and children between the ages of six months to three years catch them very frequently.
There are many cold viruses. They spread via droplets, e.g. from hand contact, and it takes two to three days to become sick after being infected.
Initially, your child may have a sore throat, feel tired and may develop a fever (temperature above 37.9). After about 24 hours, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing and cough can follow. Some children develop symptoms around their eyes, for examples redness and secretion from the corners of their eyes. The symptoms are most pronounced on days three through five. The mucous can become thicker and greenish. A cold can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. After having a cold, your child may be more receptive to catching a new cold
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) can cause anyone to catch a cold, but children less than one year old can suffer more severely. RSV gives a severely blocked nose, and thick, bubbly secretion from the nose and mouth, as well as a characteristic cough. Infants can have trouble eating due to a cold, and admission to hospital can be necessary if they do not eat adequately. Children with RSV infections should avoid contact with other children under six months old for a period of two to three weeks after infection to avoid spreading it.
Colds cannot be treated with antibiotics, as they do not work against virus infections. The symptoms of a cold, however, can be treated as follows:
- Keep your child’s head raised while sleeping to help breathing
- Nasal aspirators. Pharmacies stock many efficient nasal aspirators.
- Saltwater drops for a blocked nose. Drops can be used multiple times a day. Saltwater makes using an aspirator easier.
- Nose spray for a blocked nose. Can only be used for children over the age of two, and for max. 10 days (e.g. Otrivin Junior).
- Paracetamol can be given to a child (fluid or suppository), according to the child’s weight. A daily dose should be split into 4-6 doses. Paracetamol can lower fever and alleviate pain (e.g. in the throat and from coughing). Your child may be more likely to eat and drink after taking Paracetamol.
- It is important to give your child plenty of fluids.
Your child should not attend daycare until they have completely recovered
Danger signals in children under 6 months
- Rapid breathing (over 60 breaths per min.).
- Breathing pauses when breathing rapidly.
- Clear loss of appetite where your child does express hunger and their nappies are drier than usual.
- Colds in children that were born very prematurely or that have not reached term
- Known heart disease.