The common cold is a viral infection that affects people of all ages, but young children are particularly susceptible. In fact, children under age 6 are likely to have several colds each year. While the common cold is usually not serious, it can be uncomfortable and disruptive to daily life. Here, we will discuss how to treat a common cold in children under age 6, and what science studies support this approach.
Symptoms of the Common Cold in Children
The common cold is caused by a group of viruses that affect the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of the common cold in children may include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
Treatment for the Common Cold in Children
While there is no cure for the common cold, there are steps that parents can take to help alleviate their child’s symptoms and make them more comfortable. Here are some of the most effective treatments for the common cold in children under age 6:
Rest and Hydration
One of the most important things parents can do is to ensure their child gets plenty of rest and fluids. Encourage your child to rest and avoid strenuous activities, as well as getting plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration. In addition, maintaining a warm and humid environment can help to ease congestion and relieve cough.
There are several over-the-counter medications that can help relieve the symptoms of the common cold in children. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fever and relieve pain, while antihistamines can help relieve runny nose and sneezing. However, it is important to follow the dosing instructions carefully, and consult with a pediatrician before giving any medications to a child under the age of 6.
Saline Nasal Drops
Saline nasal drops can be used to help relieve congestion and make breathing easier. These drops are safe for young children, and can be administered using a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator to help remove mucus from the nose.
Honey is a natural remedy that can help soothe cough and sore throat in children. According to a study published in Pediatrics, honey was found to be more effective than cough medicine in reducing cough frequency and severity in children.
Steam can help to loosen mucus and ease congestion in children. This can be achieved by running a humidifier in the child’s room, or by sitting in a steam-filled bathroom for 10-15 minutes.
Science Studies Supporting Treatment Approaches
There have been several studies conducted on the treatment of the common cold in children. Here are some of the most significant findings:
Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are effective at reducing fever and relieving pain in children with the common cold. The study found that acetaminophen was effective in reducing fever in 85% of cases, while ibuprofen was effective in 95% of cases. Both medications were found to be safe when given at the recommended doses.
While antihistamines are often used to treat runny nose and sneezing in children with the common cold, a review of 26 studies found that there is little evidence to support their use. In fact, the review found that antihistamines were no more effective than a placebo at relieving symptoms.
Saline Nasal Drops
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that saline nasal drops were effective at relieving congestion and improving breathing in children with the common cold. The study found that children who received saline nasal drops experienced greater improvement in nasal obstruction and mucus production compared to those who received a placebo.
A study published in Pediatrics found that honey was effective at relieving cough and improving sleep in children with the common cold. The study found that children who received honey before bed experienced greater improvement in cough frequency and severity compared to those who received a placebo.
A study published in the journal Chest found that steam inhalation was effective at reducing cough frequency and improving mucus clearance in children with the common cold. The study found that children who received steam inhalation twice a day for five days experienced greater improvement in cough frequency and mucus clearance compared to those who received no treatment.
It is important to note that while these studies provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of different treatments for the common cold in children, they do not provide definitive conclusions. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks of these treatments, as well as to identify new approaches to treating the common cold in children.
Preventing the Common Cold in Children
While it is difficult to completely prevent the common cold in children, there are steps parents can take to reduce the risk of infection. Here are some tips for preventing the common cold in children:
Encourage your child to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. This can help to reduce the spread of germs.
Cover Your Mouth
Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. This can help to prevent the spread of germs to others.
Avoid Contact with Sick People
Try to keep your child away from people who are sick, especially those with cold symptoms. If someone in your household is sick, encourage them to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and to wash their hands frequently.
Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, get plenty of sleep, and stay physically active. These habits can help to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of infection.
The common cold is a common and often uncomfortable viral infection that affects children under age 6. While there is no cure for the common cold, there are steps parents can take to help alleviate their child’s symptoms and make them more comfortable. Rest, hydration, over-the-counter medications, saline nasal drops, honey, and steam are all effective treatments for the common cold in children. However, it is important to follow the dosing instructions carefully and consult with a pediatrician before giving any medications to a child under age 6. By following these tips and adopting healthy habits, parents can help to reduce the risk of infection and keep their child healthy and comfortable during cold and flu season.