The Common Cold: 5 Facts You Should Know Before Your Next Child Gets Sick

The common cold is all too common, and parents here at Growing Child Pediatrics often want to know how to best help their children get well. Even if you’re not currently fighting colds at your house, here are five things you should know before your children get their next cold.

1) There really is no cure yet

We have identified the viruses associated with the common cold, but we still do not have a way to cure it. This does mean that, to some extent, you will have to endure a cold until the end. Furthermore, colds are also still very common.

2) Modern allergy medications do not help with cold symptoms as well as some older medications

When a cold sets in and a child starts sniffling or coughing, the instinct for many parents is to give their children an allergy medication like Allegra, Zyrtec or Claritin. The thought is that these medications will help dry up their child and help them make it through the day. Unfortunately, however, these newer medications have not proven as effective as some older medications at minimizing cold symptoms. In the past, we would give children medicines like Dimetapp, Triaminic, or Benadryl, and those actually did more to help children’s symptoms, but would they make children drowsy. When everything is taken into consideration, the non-drowsy medicines are probably the best daytime options.

3) Some of your grandmother’s remedies actually work

If your child has a cough, take the advice your grandmother gave you. Drink lots of fluids. Stay hydrated. Drink something with lemon, honey, or some tea if you need help soothing the cough and relieving some of your child’s cold symptoms. When your child has a cold with no cure, anything to help minimize the suffering is a good idea.

4) Homemade chicken soup helps boost immune systems

If you thought that chicken soup was comforting when you were growing up, you were on to something. In very controlled studies, researchers have found that homemade chicken soup with extra garlic and onion is actually an effective immune system booster. Please note, however, that this is the case for homemade chicken soup. Not every can of chicken soup you purchase at the store will necessarily have the same immune system boosts for the common cold because the ingredients can vary significantly. If you have the time, go ahead and make your soup fresh.

5) Many doctors recommend stopping dairy

Dairy can produce and thicken mucus, and many doctors recommend that children hold off on dairy for at least a day when they have a cold. If you are trying to help your child dry up, dairy can be a hindrance. Note that milk is an especially important dairy item to stop for a short time.

While no one can avoid the common cold entirely, we hope that these five facts will help prepare your family to get well quickly next time someone comes home from school with a cough.