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When Your Child's Cold Needs Medical Care

The common cold is the bane of good health. It makes you feel just sick enough to not want to do anything, but not so sick that you can’t do anything. It’s caused by any one of many types of viruses, but the rhinoviruses are the most common. It infects your nose and upper respiratory tract, and usually presents the following symptoms:

Colds typically have a one-to-three-day incubation period, meaning that you don’t start seeing symptoms until one-to-three days after you’ve been infected. 

The virus spreads in two ways. The first is droplets suspended in the air from when someone who’s already sick sneezes, coughs, or even talks; you inhale the droplets through your mouth or nose, or they can get in your eyes.

The second is through hand-to-hand contact, either by touching someone who’s sick or by sharing contaminated objects such as eating utensils, toys, or a telephone. If you then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, the virus can invade your body.

The cold virus usually runs its course in seven to 10 days, but sometimes it sticks around for a bit longer. Children younger than six years old are at greatest risk of getting colds, often because they’re exposed in child-care settings, but even adults can expect two to three each year.

The Maria Cole Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, treats patients of all ages and emphasizes wellness and self-care for every member of your family. The practice also includes pediatric health, keeping your child — from newborn to adolescent — in the best health possible. If your child’s cold is worrisome, make an appointment to make sure it’s nothing more serious.

What are colds like for a child?

Babies are one of the most susceptible populations for the common cold, in part because they're around other children who get sick, and in part because they don’t yet have fully developed immune systems that can deal with common infections. Most babies during their first year come down with anywhere from 6-12 colds.

While the first signs of a cold in young children are often a runny nose and/or congestion, some other symptoms that may appear include:

Treatment pretty much revolves around relieving the baby’s symptoms, such as giving fluids, keeping the air moist, and clearing their nasal passages. If there are no complications, recovery time is about 10-14 days.

When should you come in to see the doctor?

An illness in a newborn can be serious, particularly because their immune systems aren’t fully developed. If your baby is less than three months old and develops a cold, call the doctor when they start developing symptoms, especially if they have a fever. It’s important to make sure that the symptoms are not coming from a more serious illness.

Some of the most serious concerns in newborns include:

Otitis media

This acute ear infection is extremely common in young children, as well as being the most common complication of the common cold. The infections occur when either bacteria or viruses invade the space behind the eardrum.


A cold can trigger wheezing, whether or not your child has asthma. The wheezing can then lead to whooping cough, a serious illness.

Secondary infections

These opportunistic infections include sinusitis (an infection of the sinuses), pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and croup. All require a doctor’s attention.

If your child is over three months, contact the doctor if they:

Contact your doctor immediately if your child:

Sometimes a cold is just a cold, but not always. Familiarize yourself with the common cold symptoms for each stage of your child’s life, and if you see anything out of the ordinary, always err on the side of caution and call the doctor. You can make an appointment with us here at the Maria Cole Family Practice by calling 432-200-9087, or you can book your appointment online

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