Woman in bed with a cold

Cold 101: Symptoms, treatment and prevention

Dr. Ryan Grimm is a board certified pediatrician with Community Physician Network.

The common cold is just that, common. Many of us experience the sniffles a few times per year and school aged children can experience up to 10 viral upper respiratory infections (colds) per year. So we sat down with Dr. Ryan Grimm to get the facts.

What causes colds?
Colds are caused by more than 200 known viruses, the most common being rhinovirus. Colds are most contagious two days prior to the start of symptoms and early in the illness. Principle symptoms last 10 to 14 days, but should improve by day 10.

Coughs associated with colds last an average of 18 days, but some patients will continue to have a cough for several weeks due to continued inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

When are colds most common?
Colds are most common between September and May.

Who is most susceptible?
Newborns are at the highest risk for developing infections, especially in the first four to six weeks of life, because the immune system is functionally immature. Therefore, newborns should be kept away from large crowds and anyone who is sick. Fevers in newborns could be a sign of serious bacterial infections, including infections of the blood or fluid around the brain.

For this reason, rectal temperatures of 100.4 F in neonates less than six weeks old should be taken seriously. Evaluation by a pediatrician is warranted immediately.

How can a cold be treated?
The actual virus itself cannot be treated, but medications can be used to treat the symptoms until the immune system can eliminate the virus. In children, cold symptoms such as fevers are treated with antipyretics like Tylenol and Motrin.

Nasal congestion can be treated with nasal saline drops or sprays. 

How can a loss in appetite be combatted?
Children often lose their appetite when sick. I recommend Pedialyte to help provide essential nutrients and keep them well-hydrated.

How can a cold be prevented?
Regular exercise, stress reduction and proper sleep will keep the immune system strong and prevent infections. Frequent hand washing and not touching your face will also help prevent the transmission of viruses.

Connect with Dr. Grimm

To request an appointment at Community Health Pavilion - County Line with Dr. Grimm, visit his physician profile.