Colds can be tricky to prevent and treat in children
By Kylie Blanchard

As the snow falls and temperatures drop, the number of colds, runny noses and coughs among kids of all ages rises quickly. Prevention can seem like an endless battle between exchanges at day care, school and play dates; but there are steps to keep kids healthy and help them feel better when a cold makes its way into their system.

Dr. Laura Archuleta, a St. Alexius family physician specializing in pediatrics, and Dr. Parag Kumar, a pediatrician at Medcenter One’s Q&R Clinic, offer tips for the prevention and treatment of kids’ colds, and hints to keep your family healthy and bouncing back quickly from illness this season.

“The most important step is prevention,” says Dr. Archuleta. “There are no proven treatments that are completely safe and effective for children. It is important to keep the immune system strong to fight off infection.”
• Wash hand frequently and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Keep hands away from the face as the virus often enters the mouth, nose or eyes
• Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the inside of the elbow
• Avoid crowded places
• Get adequate rest, nutrition and exercise

“Make kids comfortable,” says Dr. Kumar. “Left alone, the body tends to heal itself well.”
• Keep children well hydrated with plenty of fluids
• Run a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier
• Use warm saline drops to loosen nasal congestion
• Give a spoonful of honey to quell coughing in children over one year of age
• Elevate the child’s head while sleeping

Dr. Archuleta notes sometimes the best treatment isn’t medicinal. “Hugs and snuggles from a concerned caregiver can do a lot to comfort a miserable toddler,” she says.

But if symptoms become atypical of a common cold or grow more severe with time, Dr. Kumar recommends seeking treatment. “If children have a fever or breathing difficulty, they should see a doctor.”