Coughs and colds are caused by germs called virus which infect the nose and throat. Viruses are passed on by coughing and sneezing into the air.
Cold is a mild viral infection which is very common and clears up on its own within a week or two. The main symptoms are sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and cough.
Fever usually doesn’t occur in colds but with a more severe symptoms including high fever, headache and aching muscles may be a sign that there’s a bacterial infection or you got flu.
In children, there are some symptoms that should be look for as sometimes a more serious infection may develop caused by an initial viral infection. Among those are ear infection, chest infection or pneumonia, others are breathing problems such as wheeziness, fast breathing, and noisy or difficulty with breathing.
Additional symptoms to look for in children are the following:
- Being unable to swallow (this may show up as excessive drooling).
- Unusual irritability or persistent crying, in a baby, or if the baby is not taking feeds.
- A rash.
- Chest pains.
- Persistent high temperatures, particularly if a baby aged less than 3 months has a raised temperature (fever) higher than 38°C.
- Very bad (severe) headache, sore throat, earache or swollen glands.
- A cough that persists for longer than 3-4 weeks.
- Symptoms getting worse rather than better after about five days of a cold.
- Symptoms (other than a mild cough) lasting more than about ten days. This is particularly important if your child has mucus or phlegm (sputum) which is green, yellow or brown, as it may indicate infection with other germs called bacteria.
- Any symptom that you cannot explain. (Source: http://patient.info/health/coughs-and-colds-in-children)
Coughs and colds accompanied by fever require hydration as the body loses an increase amount of water. Thus, drinking plenty of fluids is necessary in order for the body to become more effective in defending itself against the infection. Fluids help to loosen the mucus in the nose and will promote fast recovery.
Eating healthy foods is also important during the period of cough and colds. The body’s energy requirement increases if you have fever. It needs more nutrients and energy to fight the infection. Foods including fruits and vegetables must be consumed including foods which boost the immune system like salmon, tuna, walnut, and yoghurt, foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, guava, pineapple and broccoli.
Children will probably lose their appetite during this period. Therefore, they must be encouraged to eat when they are hungry and give them soft foods which are easy to swallow with a sore throat.
Always practice a good hygiene by washing hands often with water and soap or by using alcohol or hand sanitizer to get rid of germs that might have picked up during the day. Don’t touch face, nose, eyes and mouth if hands are not freshly washed. When coughing and sneezing, nose and mouth should be covered and hands must be washed afterwards.