Colds in children


Colds are an infection of the nose, throat or throat. It is almost always caused by a virus. Colds usually go by themselves, but there are things you can do to relieve the symptoms.

Colds infect easily, especially in the first few days the child is sick. Wash your hands and the child’s hands frequently to avoid spreading the infection.

Symptoms of colds in children

In the event of a cold, it is common for the child 

  • has stuffed nose
  • sneezes and has a runny nose
  • have some headaches
  • have a fever
  • has mild cough
  • have difficulty swallowing and are irritated in the throat.

When the baby is infected, it only takes a day or so before the first symptoms of cold in children arrive. Usually the child feels sick for the first two days, but then becomes more alert. The string is clear at first and then thickens. The cord can be gray, yellow or green. The child may have a cough and cough for one to two weeks.

Coughing the child is part of the body’s defense. By coughing, the body gets rid of things that irritate the respiratory tract.

Children sometimes get a high fever, but it usually goes over quickly.

When should I seek care?

A cold usually goes away by itself, without the child needing care. If the cold does not improve within a week, the child may have received an infection, which needs treatment.

Seek care directly at a health center or on-call clinic for the child

  • is younger than three months and has a fever of 38.0 degrees Celsius or more
  • is between three and six months and has a fever of 39.0 degrees or more
  • is over six months and has a fever of 41.0 degrees or more
  • have a fever for more than four days
  • have pain in the ear and the pain has not diminished after a day
  • has fluid that runs out of the ear
  • have difficulty sucking on the chest or the vial because the nose is stuffy
  • does not provide the same contact as usual and seems smooth
  • do not want to eat or drink
  • have difficulty breathing with heavy, fast or wheezing.

Thick snuff is usually no reason to contact a doctor if the child is doing well otherwise.

On the other hand, contact the care if the child is snotty or clogged only in one nostril. It may be due to sinusitis  or the child has pinched a small object that has stuck in the nose. For example, a pea or a plastic ball.

This is how cold infects children

Colds in children are very contagious. The virus infects through tiny droplets in the air. They can be transmitted when the child sneezes, coughs or holds someone in his hand. Since children often have a lot of body contact with both adults and other children, colds are easily spread. The virus can also sit on toys, which children lick and suck on. Sometimes viruses and bacteria can remain on toys for several days.

It is common for children to be chilled several times a year

Children are more likely to have colds than adults. During the first years of children’s lives, it is common for them to receive up to seven colds a year. Over time, the colds come less frequently. From the age of ten, children usually have one to two colds a year, as do adults.

During the first two years, the infections usually do not make the child immune. Older children, on the other hand, often become immune to the virus they are infected with.

Children up to six months have some protection against colds, thanks to antibodies transferred from the mother while in the stomach. However, a newborn is susceptible to infections, especially during the first month.

So I avoid cold spreading

It is difficult to avoid having children being cold. But there are ways to reduce the risk of infection spreading:

  • Wash your own and baby’s hands frequently. Before and after each meal.
  • Teach the child sneezing in the arms fold, instead of straight out.
  • Try to teach the child not to poke in the nose or eyes, as viruses get stuck there most easily.

Let the child stay outdoors as much as possible, even in winter. Viruses spread more easily indoors.

Tobacco smoke leads to more respiratory infections

Children who are in environments where they breathe tobacco smoke more often get respiratory infections than children in smoke-free environments. Avoid having your child in environments where people smoke.

Should the child stay at home?

Children who have a fever, are tired and powerless should stay home from preschool, open preschool or school to rest. Children who are fever-free and feel good can go back to preschool or school even if they are cold.

What can I do myself to help the child?

You can help relieve the symptoms to make the child feel as good as possible.

The youngest children breathe through their noses. Therefore, it can be difficult for them to eat if they are stuffy in the nose. Often it is dried noses in the nose that cause the baby to become clogged.

Saline drops can be used as long as needed

You can drop saline in the nose to thin out the leash and clean the nose. Saline drops can be purchased at a pharmacy without a prescription.

You can also make your own saline drops. Mix 1 deciliter of lukewarm water with 1 milliliter of salt. It is as much as 1 spice salt. The water does not need to be boiled, but it can feel better if the solution is lukewarm when using it. Drop the solution into the baby’s nose using a small plastic syringe, which is available at pharmacies. Or use a cotton swab.

Saline drops have about the same salinity as body fluids, such as blood and lymph. Therefore, saline drops are mild to the mucous membranes and can be used as long and as long as needed.

If you are breast-feeding, you can use breast milk instead of saline drops in your baby’s nose.

Nasal drops can be used for a limited time

Children can get the swelling nasal spray or nasal drops when stuffed in the nose. It causes the swelling of the nose to go down. There are no nasal sprays or nasal drops that are approved for children under one year – then saline drops apply. Different nasal sprays and nasal drops are approved from different ages. Ask at a pharmacy and read the instructions on the package carefully.

Decongestant nasal spray and nasal drops should not be used for more than 10 days in a row. If used longer, they can instead have the opposite effect and cause the baby to become swollen in the nose.

Hold the baby’s head high

The swelling in the mucous membranes of the nose decreases if the child sleeps with his head high. You can try adding an extra pillow under the mattress. You can also set the legs at the head end of the bed on a couple of books to tilt the bed. Young children may find it comfortable to sit in a babysitter or in a baby carrier.

Water is often as good as cough medicine

Prescription-free cough medicines do not usually help with colds. The cough is important for the child to get mucus and clean the airways. Give your child plain water to drink. For children over one year, you can give honey dissolved in warm water. Remember that honey can cause caries, so brush the baby’s teeth.

Do not give cough medicine to children under the age of two or to children who have asthma without first asking their doctor for advice.

Children with fever should drink frequently

To relieve the cough you can give the child something to drink. Especially if the child also has a fever. Children get fluid deficiency faster than adults. They need to drink more than usual, in order not to become dehydrated. Offer water, juice or juice. A child who has been drinking too little can get tired, hungry and pee less than usual. If the child kisses about as often as usual, then they have had a good drink.

Sometimes children with a fever do not want to eat regular food. There is no danger if the child has a little reduced appetite for a few days. Offer something the child likes. For example ice cream, cream or scallion.

Medicines for pain and fever in colds

Fever is one of the body’s ways of defending and fighting infections. Viruses do not thrive in the body when it gets too hot. Therefore, do not treat a fever in a child who is otherwise well.

You can give non-prescription fever-reducing and pain-relieving medicines if the child is wholesome, does not want to eat or drink or has difficulty getting to rest in the evening.

  • You can give medicines containing paracetamol to children from three months of age. 
  • You can give medicines containing ibuprofen from the age of six months. 

The drugs are available in several different forms that are suitable for children, such as orodispersible tablets and solutions. Ask a pharmacy what is right for your child.

Follow the instructions on the package carefully and do not combine different medicines.

You can read more about medicine in the package leaflet that comes with the package. You can also lookup the drug and read the package leaflet there.

Giving medicines to children

Prescription drugs for temporary pain

Treatment for cold in children

Since colds are usually caused by viruses, treatment with antibiotics does not help. The body’s immune system does the healing and the cold goes by itself.

About colds

A cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract, mainly in the nose. Viruses or bacteria cause the mucous membranes to become infected. They then become swollen and form more mucus than usual. The mucus can be thin or thick.

There are several hundred types of viruses that can cause colds.


If the cold does not pass, the child may have sequelae.

Ear inflammation is the most common sequelae

Sometimes colds can cause the child to get ear infections. The child aches in one or both ears. Ear inflammation may need to be treated with antibiotics. Especially in children up to one year or from twelve years old.

Unusual for the child to get sinusitis

Some children may get sinusitis when they are cold, but it is unusual. The child can then get a stuffy nose, thick cough, and aches in the forehead or cheeks.

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