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PostSubject: Common cold in babies    Common cold in babies   EmptyThu Jan 20, 2011 9:22 pm

Common cold in babies
A common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract — your
baby's nose and throat. Nasal congestion and a runny nose are the
primary signs of common cold in babies.

Babies are especially susceptible to the common cold, in part because
they're often around other older children who don't always wash their
hands. In fact, within the first year of life, most babies have up to
seven colds. Younger babies have immature immune systems, and have had
limited time to acquire immunity to common viruses.

Treatment for the common cold in babies involves taking steps to ease
their symptoms, such as providing plenty of fluids and keeping the air
moist. Very young infants must see a doctor at the first sign of the
common cold, because they're at greater risk of complications such as
croup or pneumonia.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownSymptoms

The first indication of the common cold in a baby is often:

* A congested or runny nose
* Nasal discharge that may be clear at first, but then usually becomes thicker and turns shades of yellow or green

Other signs of a common cold may include:

* A low-grade fever of about 100.4 F (38 C)
* Sneezing
* Coughing
* Decreased appetite
* Irritability
* Difficulty sleeping

When to see a doctor
Your baby's immune system will need time to conquer the cold. If your
baby has a cold with no complications, it should resolve within about a

If your baby is younger than 2 to 3 months of age, call the doctor early
in the illness. For newborns, a common cold can quickly develop into
croup, pneumonia or another serious illness. Even without such
complications, a stuffy nose can make it difficult for your baby to
nurse or drink from a bottle. This can lead to dehydration. As your baby
gets older, your doctor can guide you on when your baby needs to be
seen by a doctor and when you can treat his or her cold at home.

Most colds are simply a nuisance. But it's important to take your baby's
signs and symptoms seriously. If your baby is age 3 months or older,
call the doctor if he or she:

* Isn't wetting as many diapers as usual
* Has a temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C)
* Seems to have ear pain
* Has red eyes or develops yellow eye discharge
* Has a cough for more than one week
* Has thick, green nasal discharge for more than two weeks
* Has any signs or symptoms that worry you

Seek medical help immediately if your baby:

* Refuses to nurse or accept fluids
* Coughs hard enough to cause vomiting or changes in skin color
* Coughs up blood-tinged sputum
* Has difficulty breathing or is bluish around the lips and mouth

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownCauses

The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by one of
more than 100 viruses. The rhinovirus and coronavirus are common
culprits, and are highly contagious.

Once your baby has been infected by a virus, he or she generally becomes
immune to that specific virus. But because there are so many viruses
that cause colds, your baby may have several colds a year and many
throughout his or her lifetime.

A common cold virus enters your baby's body through his or her mouth or nose. Your baby may be infected with such a virus by:

* Air. When someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks, he or she may directly spread the virus to your baby.
* Direct contact. The common cold can spread when someone who is
sick touches his or her mouth or nose, and then touches your baby's
hand. Your baby can then become infected by touching his or her own
eyes, nose or mouth.
* Contaminated surfaces. Some viruses can live on surfaces for two
hours or longer. Your baby may catch a virus by touching a contaminated
surface, such as a toy.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownRisk factors

A few factors put infants at higher risk of common colds.

* Immature immune systems. Infants are, by nature, at risk of common
colds because they haven't yet been exposed to or developed resistance
to most of the viruses that cause them.
* Exposure to other children. Infants tend to spend lots of time
with other children, and children aren't always careful about washing
their hands and covering their coughs and sneezes. So, if your baby is
in child care or has an older, school-age brother or sister in the
house, your baby may have a higher risk of catching a cold.
* Time of year. Both children and adults are more susceptible to
colds in fall and winter, when the air is dry. Children are in school
and most people are spending a lot of time indoors, which can make germs
easier to spread from person to person.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownComplications

* Acute ear infection (otitis media). Between 5 and 15 percent of
children who have the common cold develop an ear infection. Ear
infections occur when bacteria or viruses infiltrate the space behind
the eardrum.
* Wheezing. A cold can trigger wheezing, even if your child doesn't have asthma.
* Sinusitis. A common cold that doesn't resolve may lead to sinusitis — inflammation and infection of the sinuses.
* Other secondary infections. These include strep throat
(streptococcal pharyngitis), pneumonia, bronchiolitis and croup. Such
infections need to be evaluated by a doctor.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownPreparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor. Because
appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to
cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's
some information to help you get ready for your baby's appointment, and
what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

* Write down any signs you've noticed in your baby, including any
that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the
* Write down key personal information, such as a description of any
child care setting or known exposure your child has had to the common
cold. And note how frequently your child has had colds, as well as how
long they usually last.
* Make a list of all medications that your baby is taking.
* Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your baby's doctor is limited, so preparing a list of
questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your
questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
For a common cold, some basic questions to ask the doctor include:

* What is likely causing my baby's symptoms or condition?
* Are there other possible causes?
* What kinds of tests are needed?
* What is the best course of action?
* My baby has these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
* Are there any restrictions that we need to follow?
* Are there over-the-counter medications that are not safe for my child at his or her age?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor,
don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that
you don't understand something.

What to expect from your doctor
Your baby's doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being
ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to
spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

* When did your baby first begin experiencing signs of a cold?
* Have these signs been continuous or occasional?
* How severe are they?
* What, if anything, seems to improve them?
* What, if anything, appears to worsen them?

What you can do in the meantime
While you wait for your baby's appointment, you can take steps to help
make him or her more comfortable. These include moistening the air in
your home and using saline and a suction bulb to remove mucus from your
child's nose.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownTreatments and drugs

Unfortunately, there's no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics don't
work against cold viruses. The best you can do is take steps at home to
try to make your baby more comfortable, such as suctioning mucus from
his or her nose and keeping the air moist. Again, call the doctor early
in the illness if your baby is younger than age 3 months.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications should generally be avoided in
infants. Fever-reducing medications may be safely used — carefully
following dosing directions — if fever is making your child
uncomfortable. Cough and cold medications are not safe for infants and
young children.

Fever-reducing medications
OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help
relieve discomfort associated with a fever. Don't give acetaminophen to
children under 3 months of age, and be especially careful when giving
acetaminophen to older babies and children because the dosing guidelines
can be confusing. For instance, the infant-drop formulation is much
more concentrated than the syrup commonly used in older children. Call
your doctor if you have any questions about the right dosage for your

Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others) also is OK, but only if your child is age 6 months or older.

Do not give these medications to your baby if he or she is dehydrated or
vomiting continuously. And never give aspirin to someone younger than
18 years of age, because it may trigger a rare but potentially fatal
condition called Reye's syndrome.

Cough and cold medications
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly recommends against
giving over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines to children
younger than age 2. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines don't
effectively treat the underlying cause of a child's cold and won't cure a
child's cold or make it go away any sooner. These medications also have
potential side effects, including rapid heart rate and convulsions.

In June 2008, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association voluntarily
modified consumer product labels on OTC cough and cold medicines to
state "do not use" in children under 4 years of age, and many companies
have stopped manufacturing these products for young children.

FDA experts are studying the safety of cough and cold medicines for
children older than age 2. In the meantime, remember that cough and cold
medicines won't make a cold go away any sooner — and side effects are
still possible. If you give cough or cold medicines to an older child,
carefully follow the label directions. Don't give your child two
medicines with the same active ingredient, such as an antihistamine,
decongestant or pain reliever. Too much of a single ingredient could
lead to an accidental overdose.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownLifestyle and home remedies

Most of the time, you can treat an older baby's cold at home. Consider these suggestions:

* Offer plenty of fluids. Liquids are important to avoid
dehydration. Encourage your baby to take in his or her normal amount of
fluids. Extra fluids aren't necessary. If you're breast-feeding your
baby, keep it up. Breast milk offers extra protection from cold-causing
* Thin the mucus. Your baby's doctor may recommend saline nose drops
to loosen thick nasal mucus. Look for these over-the-counter drops in
your local pharmacy.
* Suction your baby's nose. Keep your baby's nasal passages clear
with a rubber-bulb syringe. Squeeze the bulb syringe to expel the air.
Then insert the tip of the bulb about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.64 to 1.27
centimeters) into your baby's nostril, pointing toward the back and side
of the nose. Release the bulb, holding it in place while it suctions
the mucus from your baby's nose. Remove the syringe from your baby's
nostril, and empty the contents onto a tissue by squeezing the bulb
rapidly while holding the tip down. Repeat as often as needed for each
nostril. Clean the bulb syringe with soap and water.
* Moisten the air. Running a humidifier in your baby's room can help
improve runny nose and nasal congestion symptoms. Aim the mist away
from your baby's crib to keep the bedding from becoming damp. To prevent
mold growth, change the water daily and follow the manufacturer's
instructions for cleaning the unit. It might also help to sit with your
baby in a steamy bathroom for a few minutes before bedtime.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownPrevention

The common cold typically spreads through infected respiratory droplets
coughed or sneezed into the air. The best defense? Common sense and
plenty of soap and water.

* Keep your baby away from anyone who's sick, especially during the
first few days of illness. If you have a newborn, don't allow visits
from anyone who's sick. If possible, avoid public transportation and
public gatherings with your newborn.
* Wash your hands before feeding or caring for your baby. When soap
and water aren't available, use hand wipes or gels that contain
germ-killing alcohol.
* Clean your baby's toys and pacifiers often.
* Teach everyone in the household to cough or sneeze into a tissue —
and then toss it. If you can't reach a tissue in time, cough or sneeze
into the crook of your arm.

Simple preventive measures can go a long way toward keeping the common cold at bay.

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