The most common acute illness in children, especially infants and toddlers, is an upper respiratory (RESS-pur-uh-tor-ee) infection, better known as a cold,. Colds are rare in newborns because of the antibodies they receive from the mother, especially from mothers who breast-feed their babies. Children who are more frequently exposed to the cold virus-- either from contact with other adults or children-- get more colds. Children in day care or in large families tend to have them more frequently. Because antibiotics (an-tye-bye-AW-ticks) are effective in treating infections caused only by bacteria, rather than viruses, they shouldn't be used for treating colds. However, they can be helpful in treating some bacterial infections-- such as ear infection, strep throat, or pneumonia-- that can accompany a cold. There's no cure for the common cold, so you can treat only the symptoms. In infants under the age of six months, the medications used to treat cold symptoms can cause unpleasant side effects. Instead, consider using a cool-mist vaporizer and saline nose drops. For older infants and children, there are decongestants and antihistamines (an-tuh-HISS-tuh-meenz) available. When administering pain relievers, never give aspirin, as it's linked to Reye's Syndrome. Have the child rest and drink plenty of fluids, especially warm ones. Keep the child warm and avoid chilling. Make sure the child washes his hands frequently and covers his nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading the infection. Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist or get worse.
©2006 Crossroads Mobile. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.