Infants and children are more susceptible to colds because their immune systems aren’t as strong. This means that it’s very likely that your baby will catch a cold. It’s very likely that they may catch a cold multiple times. What should you do if your baby gets a cold?
When Your Baby Has a Cold
It’s no surprise that babies are prone to catching colds. Their immune systems have just been newly introduced into the environment so they don’t quite yet know how to fight off the common pathogens that surround us. This includes the bacteria that causes the common cold.
When your baby catches a cold, it’s important to understand that the cold itself is not a dangerous sickness. Developing colds is a normal part of growth in infants and children and it can help strengthen their immune systems. But, the symptoms that arise as part of the common cold should be watched carefully since these could indicate signs of a more dangerous infection.
Symptoms of the Cold
When your baby has a cold, they will often show the following symptoms:
- Irritability or inconsolability
- Sneezing and coughing (coughing usually occurs at later stages of the disease process)
- Runny nose (the mucous will be clear initially and then yellow or green later on)
- Loss of appetite
Other symptoms include drooling and even vomiting or diarrhea. Some of these symptoms are more dangerous than others as they could be signs of worse infections, such as the flu, whooping cough or pneumonia. If it’s simply an infant cold, the symptoms will resolve in about 10 days and will get better with proper hydration and rest. If symptoms seem to worsen or last longer than 10 days, this may be a sign of a more dangerous infection.
Check the Fever
Your baby may develop a slight fever when they have a cold. This is normal and indicates that your baby’s immune system is working to fight off the infection. But, if the fever doesn’t go away within 10 days and seems to be increasing in temperature, your baby may have the flu. If this is the case, contact your primary healthcare provider or seek urgent medical attention. The flu is particularly dangerous for infants.
Check the Cough
If your baby’s cough seems to be getting worse after a week of the cold, it’s important to start paying particular attention to the type of sounds your baby makes when coughing. A long lasting cough characterized by a high pitched “whoop” sound on inhalation could mean that your baby has whooping cough, also known as pertussis. Seek medical attention right away if you suspect that your baby has developed whooping cough.
Check the Breathing
The common cold is an upper respiratory illness. This means that it typically won’t cause difficulty breathing because it doesn’t affect the lungs. If it seems like your baby is having trouble breathing, immediately see your primary healthcare provider. Difficulty breathing is characterized by rapid breaths, grunting and wheezing sounds and visible chest retractions. These symptoms in addition to symptoms of the common cold could indicate that your baby has pneumonia.
If your baby develops a cold, there is absolutely no need to panic. This is part of the growth process for babies and children. The common cold can strengthen their immune system and get it ready to fight off the bacteria in the future. However, pay close attention to the length of time symptoms last. If symptoms last beyond 10 days and seem to worsen, seek medical attention.
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Ese Agboh is a student nurse who wants to specialize in pediatric nursing and wound care. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing articles related to medicine and the pathophysiology of communicable diseases. Ese currently lives and studies on the east coast of the United States.
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