Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

First Aid: Common Cold

First Aid

Kids can get eight colds a year — or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness. Most colds are caused by a virus found in the air and on the things we touch. Antibiotics can't treat viruses, but you can help your child feel better.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Cold?

  • stuffy or runny nose (may start out watery, then turn thick yellow or green)
  • itchy or sore throat
  • sneezing
  • cough
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • feeling tired
  • eating less

What to Do

  • Ease discomfort with:
    • acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed if your child is older than 6 months
    • a cool-mist humidifier or steamy bathroom
    • saline (saltwater) drops for a congested nose
    • gentle suction of nasal mucus using a bulb syringe when necessary
  • Offer lots of liquids — breast milk or formula for babies; water and diluted juice for older kids, but no caffeinated beverages.
  • Never give cough or cold medicine to children under 6 years old. Call a doctor first for older kids.
  • Never give aspirin to a child.

Get Medical Care if Your Child Has:

  • cold symptoms that get worse or last more than a week
  • cough and congestion triggered by pollen, dust, pets, etc.
  • a barking cough or a cough that is severe and happens in spasms
  • trouble breathing
  • a high fever and appears ill; or any fever in a baby 3 months old or younger
  • a sore throat that makes it hard to eat and drink
  • a bad headache

Think Prevention!

Remind kids to:

  • avoid anyone who has a cold
  • avoid smokers (secondhand smoke increases kids' risk of getting sick)
  • wash their hands well and often, especially after nose-blowing and playing with other kids
  • sneeze and cough into shirtsleeves or tissues — not hands

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date Reviewed: 23-05-2018

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.