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How do you prepare your child for coughs and colds this winter?

Coughs and colds are a common problem among children. They’re usually caused by viruses and will run their course in a few days or weeks. Children who get sick often have coughing fits that can last for weeks, but most of them do not require any special treatment. If your child has a persistent cough or one that’s getting worse, it’s important to see a doctor. The following tips can help relieve your child’s symptoms:

Coughs are very common in children and many last only a few days or weeks.

Coughs are very common in children and many last only a few days or weeks.

Coughing is a way to clear the throat and lungs. It’s a natural response to irritation in the throat or lungs. Coughing is not a sign of illness, but sometimes it can be helpful to know how long your child has been coughing for so you can reassure them that it’s normal for them to be coughing due to an infection like the common cold.

Coughs can be triggered by the following:

Although there are many different causes of coughs and colds, they can be triggered by the following:

  • Viruses. The most common viruses that cause a cough include influenza (flu), parainfluenza, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and coronaviruses. Exposure to these viruses can occur through face-to-face contact with an infected person or through indirect contact such as touching a contaminated surface or object.
  • Allergies. The second most common cause of a chronic cough is allergies. You may develop asthma if you have allergies that lead to chronic bronchitis/bronchiolitis or pneumonia years later in life due to repeated infections during childhood. *

Smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes — even secondhand smoke — can irritate your airways and lungs over time. * Pollution from cars and other types of vehicles contains small particles that get deep into your lungs when you breathe them in.* Colds are caused by over 200 different viruses; flu is caused primarily by three types: influenza A virus subtypes H1N1 – H3N2; influenza B; human parainfluenza viruses 1–4.

Virus under a microscope

Most coughs get better without any special treatment, but there are some things you can do to help your child feel more comfortable.

  • Most coughs get better without any special treatment, but there are some things you can do to help your child feel more comfortable.
  • For mild cases of coughs, over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines may be helpful. They’re not effective in most cases of the common cold, but they may help relieve a dry or tickly throat and other symptoms that make it hard to sleep or concentrate at school (like nasal congestion). If these products don’t seem to help after a couple days, ask your doctor if you should try something else instead.
  • Coughing is actually natural way to clear the airways and expel mucus from the lungs during sickness. It can also be painful for some children—if your little one has trouble coughing up phlegm because he has croup or asthma, talk with his healthcare provider about other options for managing symptoms like fever and shortness of breath so that he can get some restful sleep.

There are times when you should see your doctor about a child’s cough.

  • If the cough lasts longer than two weeks, see your doctor.
  • If the cough is accompanied by a fever or difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.
  • Contact your physician if you notice any of these symptoms in addition to coughing: a rash or vomiting; a change in behaviour; trouble swallowing; pain when urinating; chest pain or tightness; wheezing or other breathing problems (such as grunting).

Everyone gets sick, but as a parent you can help your child get through it.

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. When your child’s body is fighting a cold or flu, they’ll need more water than usual. A good rule of thumb is to make sure they’re drinking at least six to eight glasses per day.
  • Make sure they get enough rest and sleep. Colds and flus can be exhausting for everybody, but kids who are sick may be especially tired (and cranky!). Try not to let them skip naps during a fever—if possible, try to keep them on their regular schedule so that their body doesn’t have extra work recovering from the illness later on in the day. It’s also important that you set up an environment where your child feels comfortable resting: dimming lights; soft music playing; no noisy toys around—all these factors will help them feel less drained and more relaxed as they heal from their illness!
  • Keep their bodies warm, when possible, without making them feel bundled up in blankets like mummies! The best way is by wearing layers instead of one big thick sweater; if it gets too hot then take off some layers first before putting back on again if needed later down the road again.”

Common cold

The common cold is the most common cause of coughs in children. Colds are caused by viruses and last 1-2 weeks. They can be treated with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. The infection can cause sore throat, fever and headache. Strep throat is contagious and spreads easily through direct contact with the saliva of an infected person or from sharing food, drinks or utensils with someone who has it.

In most cases, strep throat will go away on its own within two weeks if you don’t treat it with antibiotics. However, there are some potential complications that may occur when you have strep throat:

  • Ongoing pain in your neck and difficulty swallowing (pharyngitis)
  • A red line down the centre of your tonsils (scarlet fever)
  • Scarlet fever causes a rash on your body; this rash sometimes looks like child’s measles but isn’t as severe.
Child looking sad and under the weather with a teddy bear

How to prevent coughs and colds

  • Wash your childs hands often. The single most effective way to avoid getting sick is by washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds at least five times per day. If you’re in a public restroom, use the hand sanitizer instead of the soap dispenser—those are more likely to be contaminated with germs than the sink itself.
  • Don’t share food or drink with others. Keep your child from sharing food or drinks with anyone who has a cough or cold, even if they claim that they don’t have one yet (they might not know).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing first! This is another great way to keep yourself healthy all winter long: just think about how many germs are on those surfaces of your body right now and try not to get any of them in there! You may want some sanitizing wipes around the house so you can easily disinfect surfaces wherever they happen to be sitting.
  • Keep them home when they’re sick! This is especially important for children under 5 years old because their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet so it’s harder for them if something goes wrong with their health during this time period–that said though parents should still monitor themselves carefully too as well since we tend not to.


Hopefully, knowing the signs and how to care for your child will help you keep them healthy. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your doctor immediately.

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