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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
What causes the common cold?
A cold is caused by a virus. There are many—more than 200—different types of viruses that can cause a cold. The most common one is called the rhinovirus, but others include the coronavirus, parainfluenza, adenovirus, enterovirus and respiratory syncytial viruses.
Once a virus enters your child's body, it causes a reaction — the body's immune system begins to react to and fight off the foreign virus. This, in turn, causes:
How did my child catch a cold?
To catch a cold, your child must come in contact with one of the viruses that cause a cold, from someone else who is affected. The cold virus can be transmitted in the following ways:
How long do colds last?
The symptoms of a cold start from one to three days after your child has been in contact with the cold virus. Usually, the symptoms last about one week, but this varies in each child, and may last even up to two weeks.
What are the symptoms of a cold?
While each child may experience symptoms of a cold differently, some of the most common include:
The symptoms of the common cold may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
How is a cold different from the flu?
A cold and the flu (influenza) are two different illnesses:
What may seem like a cold, could, in fact, be the flu. Be aware of these differences:
Low or no fever
Sometimes a headache
Always a headache
Stuffy, runny nose
Clear nose or stuffy nose
Mild, hacking cough
Cough, often becoming severe
Slight aches and pains
Often severe aches and pains
Several weeks of fatigue
Sometimes a sore throat
Normal energy level
Who is at increased risk of catching the common cold?
Children suffer more colds each year than adults, due to their immature immune systems and to the close physical contact with other children at school or daycare. However, the average number of colds for children and adults will vary.
Can vitamin C prevent colds?
Perhaps not. Many people believe taking large amounts of vitamin C will either prevent the common cold or reduce its symptoms. However, to date, studies have not shown that high amounts of vitamin C affect the onset and symptoms of the common cold. In addition, taking large quantities of vitamin C over a long period of time may, in fact, be harmful, causing diarrhea and distorting urine and blood test results.
Can I prevent my child from getting colds?
Taking proper preventive measures can reduce the risk of your child developing a cold:
What are the possible complications from having a cold?
The following are some of the complications that might occur if your child gets a cold:
What is the relationship between cold weather and a cold?
Contrary to popular belief, cold weather or getting chilled does not cause a cold, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). However, your child may be more likely to come down with a cold during the cold season, which is early fall to late winter). This is probably due to a variety of factors, including the following:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”