GetzWell’s Guide to Managing Colds and Minor Viral Infections

Cold Hard Facts

  • Colds are caused by viral infections of the nose and throat.
  • The average healthy child will experience between 6-10 colds a year.
  • While colds are not serious, about 5-10 % of children will develop a bacterial complication (e.g. ear infections, pneumonia, impetigo).

Typical Cold Symptoms

  • Runny or congested nose — it’s okay for mucus to be clear, cloudy, yellow or even green.
  • Fever of 100° F or greater that lasts for up to three days (72 hours).
  • Sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Red, watery eyes.
  • Coughs that last up to three weeks (as long as there’s no respiratory distress or wheezing).

From Cold to Worse (when symptoms require a trip to GetzWell)

  • Earache or discharge from the ear.
  • Fever that lasts more than three days.
  • Fever that disappears for 24 hours and then returns.
  • Sore throat that lasts more than five days (or accompanied by headache, tummy ache, and fever).
  • Coughs (without respiratory distress or wheezing) that last more than three weeks OR a worsening cough.
  • Respiratory distress or wheezing.

Treatment and Immune Support

  • Comfort measures
    • Humidity—Try a cool-mist humidifier in the room and nasal saline drops to help moisten mucus membranes.  Suctioning mucus with a “nose frida” is often helpful.
    • Elevate the head while sleeping to reduce the post-nasal drip that stimulates coughing.  (Fold blankets or towels under crib mattress to elevate.)
    • Increase fluids to help reduce congestion and prevent dehydration (milk counts too, as it’s NOT linked to increased phlegm production).
  • Immune Boosting Products and Harmless Treatments
    • Oscillococcinum: A homeopathic remedy that can safely be used at any age at both onset of cold symptoms and as weekly prevention during cold season.
    • Cold Calm: Another homeopathic medication that can be used at onset of cold symptoms at any age.
    • Vitamin D3: A “vitamin” that helps lower the risk of catching viral upper respiratory infections.
    • Echinacea/Eyebright: An herbal tincture that can be given daily during cold and flu season as a daily immune system booster.
    • Echinacea/Astragalus: An herbal tincture that can be given at the onset of a cold for deep immune support.
    • Probiotics: A daily supplement that helps to boost both the innate and acquired immune responses.
    • Chestal: A homeopathic cough syrup that may work wonders to reduce the urge to cough (contains honey and shouldn’t be given to children under one year of age due to risk of botulism).
    • Honey: A simple natural product found to be effective at suppressing cough (not for infants under one due to botulism).
  • Over-the-Counter Products
    • There are NO cold and cough formulations approved by the FDA for use in children under four years old and in general they are ineffective at curing the common cold.
    • Ibuprofen can be given judiciously to reduce fever.  We do not recommend Tylenol.  Please contact us for correct dosing which should be based on a child’s weight, not age.

Want to know more?

We are committed to providing the best pediatric care in the Bay Area. If you want to learn more about our practice, please contact us.