A cold, also called an upper respiratory infection, is one of the most common illnesses in children and most young children have several each year. Colds are caused by viruses and the most common symptoms are runny nose and congestion, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat. The cough is usually caused by mucus dripping down the throat. The symptoms of a cold usually last about a week but can be even longer.

There is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics will not help and may cause unwanted side effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using cough medicines that contain codeine or dextromethorphan as they can have dangerous side effects.

You should seek medical care for your child if they have any of the following:

  • Cough longer than 2-3 weeks
  • Fever for 3 or more days
  • Ear pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Severe pain or headache
  • Lethargy

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