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Cold Overview

The pediatric cold is a viral infection of your child’s upper respiratory tract — his or her nose and throat. It can be caused by one of more than 200 viruses, and spread from child to child through sneezing, nose-blowing and nose- wiping.


The single most important way to keep a cold from spreading is to wash your hands and your child’s hands often.


Although a common cold is a simple condition, you should call your Wellstar pediatrician if:


  • Your child’s symptoms get worse or you suspect something other than a cold.
  • Your child has asthma. Colds are the most common trigger of asthma symptoms.
  • Your child is younger than three months of age and has a fever above 100.4°F (38°C) when taken rectally.
  • Your child’s nostrils are widening with each breath, the skin above or below the ribs sucks in with each breath or your child is breathing rapidly or having any difficulty breathing.
  • Your child’s lips or nails turn blue.
  • Your child has an earache.
  • Your child is excessively sleepy or cranky.

Symptoms

The most frequent symptoms of a cold are:


  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fever

Once your child catches a cold, symptoms usually begin in two or three days. Typically, an irritated nose or scratchy throat is the first sign, followed within hours by sneezing and a watery nasal discharge. Within one to three days, the nasal secretions usually become thicker and perhaps yellow or green. This is a normal part of the common cold and not a reason for antibiotics.


Depending on which virus your child has, other symptoms might include:


  • Cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat

A cold is usually over in a week, with perhaps a few lingering symptoms, such as cough, for another week.