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Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

    • What is an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection?

      Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (Common Cold)

      Despite the name, the common cold starts not because of cold weather but when your child's nose and throat get infected with a virus. Among the many viruses which can cause the common cold, rhinovirus is the most common.

      The common cold is indeed common in the first few years of a healthy child’s life. It is possible to get up to 12 viral illnesses in the first few years of life as your child builds up their immunity against viruses.

      If your child has a cold, they may display these symptoms for up to a week:

      • Cough
      • Fever
      • Loss of appetite
      • Phlegm
      • Slight body aches or headache
      • Sneezing, runny nose or blocked nose
      • Sore throat
      • Tiredness

      Nasal and cough symptoms can last longer and in some cases up to 4 weeks.

    • How can I manage my child at home?

      Ensure that your child has adequate rest and fluids. Use symptom medications such as nasal drops and saline sprays to decongest the nose, or oral medications like antihistamines to keep your child comfortable. A baby or child with a clear nose is able to sleep and feed better, and is less irritable. Fever medications may be given if high fevers are causing your child to be uncomfortable or irritable.

      If your child is above the age of 1 year, honey is a natural remedy which can be soothing for a cough. Strong medications which are drowsy and artificially suppress a cough response are not recommended in children below the age of 2 years. No medications will cure the cough or other cold symptoms. The symptoms only resolve as the immune system fights and clears off the infection.

    • When should I bring my child to a doctor?

      You should bring your child to a doctor if they display any of the following symptoms:

      • Unresolved cough after 4 weeks
      • Fever for more than 1 week
      • Hard or fast breathing
      • Drowsiness or increased lethargy
      • Poor fluid intake or reduced urine
    • How can I prevent getting the common cold?

      The common cold is contagious. Your child may catch the cold virus if they touch an object that someone with a cold has touched in the last few hours, such as toys, door handles, books and pens. Your child is more likely to catch a cold by touching their nose, eyes, or mouth afterwards. If someone with a cold sneezes or coughs around your child, they may also catch it by breathing in the droplets.

      Teach your child and maintain good hygiene practices to reduce the chance of catching colds. These include:

      • discarding tissues immediately after using them and washing hands after
      • not sharing cups or utensils
      • regular handwashing
      • teaching your child to cough and sneeze into their elbow

      Even so, it is hard to completely avoid cold viruses. It is a good option to get your child above the age of 6 months vaccinated with the yearly flu vaccine to build up their immunity against common seasonal viruses.

      Do not send your child back to school or bring them out to crowded places when they are still recovering from a cold as it is easy to catch another virus soon after. Some children appear to be sick for months as they often catch back to back colds due to this reason.

      Most children do not need additional vitamins or supplements to build their immunity. This is a natural process which occurs with each exposure to a virus in the first few years of life. A good balanced diet and adequate sleep will keep your child healthy.

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