Cold and Cough | Emma's Diary India

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Colds and coughs


What are the symptoms and how to treat colds and coughs in children

Once your child starts to mix with other children you can expect her to catch a fair number of colds.

While adults can expect to catch around 3-4 colds a year, your little one runs the chance of having around 10, because of her growing immune system.

Cold symptoms

These are same for a child as they are for an adult, which are generally a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and often a mild fever.

A cough often accompanies the cold as there is a lot of mucus being produced which irritates the throat. The first couple of days of the cold are usually the worst and after that your child should gradually improve over the course of a week.

As colds are caused by viruses they do not respond to antibiotics. The cold virus is very infectious so encourage your child to sneeze and blow her nose into tissues, which can easily be disposed of.

Make the whole family wash their hands frequently to prevent the germs being spread.

Home treatment

Your child may be more tired than usual and need extra time resting in bed or tucked up on a sofa.

Keeping the atmosphere warm and slightly humid in the room where your child is resting will help her to breathe more easily if she has a blocked up nose.

Try placing a non-breakable container of water beside the radiator to help moisten the air, or use a vaporiser if you have one.

A few drops of decongestant oil, sprinkled on a hanky and placed out of reach, but near your child's head, will also help to relieve congestion. Another simple treatment is saline nasal drops, which can help to clear blocked noses. You can help your child clear her nasal passages, by showing her how to blow one nostril at a time.

Your child may not be hungry, but it is important that she drinks regularly so offer plenty of liquids such as warm drinks, water, milk or well-diluted fruit juice.

If your child is feverish paracetamol or ibuprofen may make her feel more comfortable. Give one type of medicine at a time and always follow the instructions on the packet regarding the correct dosage and frequency.

It is not recommended that children under the age of six years be given over-the-counter cold remedies as they don’t work and could cause side effects.

When to see the doctor

See the doctor if your child's cold symptoms become worse rather than better after a few days or if her fever is worsening.

If your toddler develops severe earache, a very sore throat or is having breathing problems you need to seek urgent medical advice.

A runny nose can sometimes be the first sign of other infections: if your child is unwell, is drowsy, vomits, has a rash or other unusual symptoms get her checked without delay.


Coughs often accompany a cold. There are two distinct types of cough – chesty and dry.

  • A chesty cough is caused by a build-up of mucus and phlegm; coughing helps clear phlegm from the lungs and mucus from the back of the throat.
  • A dry or tickly cough is caused by irritation to the throat. It's a non-productive cough, which doesn’t result in coughing up phlegm.


Cough medicines are not suitable for children under six years of age. A dry or tickly cough can be relieved by making a drink of warm water, lemon and honey, which will help to soothe the cough.

Honey should only be given to children over 12 months. Always get your child to clean her teeth after taking your home-made syrup.

A repetitive cough can be helped by breathing in moist, warm air; getting your child to take a bath or shower can help.

When to see the doctor

If your child has a bad cough, along with a fever and being off form, she may have a bacterial infection. Ask your doctor to check her over and if a bacterial infection is diagnosed antibiotics will be prescribed.

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