This information is presented as a guide to understanding your child’s condition. It may help you to manage without the use of cough and cold products, some of which can now only be supplied with a doctor’s prescription in children under two years of age...
As children grow their immune system develops. At birth babies have a relatively high level of immunity that has come across the placenta whilst they are still in the womb. At approximately 6 months of age this immunity drops to the lowest level it is going to be for the rest of life.
Over the next 12 month period it is quite normal for your child to have one viral infection per month. These viral infections usually manifest as colds with a snuffly and runny nose and sometimes an associated cough.
Not all coughs are the same
These coughs are important as they move mucus up from the lungs. In most cases you will not see the mucus because children tend to swallow it. The cough is wet sounding. Since children swallow the mucus that comes up from their lungs, their appetite is usually suppressed. It will return to normal once the mucus is cleared.
It is important not to try and stop these coughs, as mucus that is allowed to accumulate in the lungs can cause pneumonia and other problems.
These coughs are dry and irritating and do not produce any mucus from the chest. They are frequently caused by mucus dropping from the back of the nose.
This type of cough can usually be treated very successfully simply by washing out the nose with a saline spray. These sprays are well tolerated by children. Always use as directed on the product packaging.
Runny nose producing green/yellow mucus
This is very common in children with colds. Mucus may be coloured in many viral infections. Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections.
Drying the mucus tends to make it more sticky and more difficult to shift. This means that mucus hangs around longer in both the lungs and also the nose and sinuses. So, rather than trying to dry up the mucus, it is far better to get it out of the nose and sinuses by simply using a saline nasal spray. The saline solution helps to thin the mucus which in turn helps the body’s natural mucus-clearing systems to work better.
Fevers, aches and pains
Children invariably have a fever with their cold, and may also have a headache and muscle pains, much the same way as adults who have the ‘flu. These symptoms may be relieved by administering either paracetamol or ibuprofen as directed on the product packaging.
When to see the doctor or pharmacist
See your doctor or pharmacist if you are in any way concerned about any aspect of your child’s health or if symptoms persist.