Coughs and Colds

You know your two-year-old has a cold when he has a runny nose, sneezes a lot, seems to have trouble swallowing, and generally be congested. He'll probably cough a lot, too, because the mucus is running down his throat. More than 110 distinct viruses are known to cause the common cold.

If your child has a cold, it is important for him to drink more fluids than usual. You should also let him eat as much — or as little — as he likes. Medicine does not work on viruses, but one thing that does seem to help is soup. Although soup won't kill the virus, it will soothe your child's sore throat, clear his nasal passages, and combat dehydration. The hot soup produces steam that can help break up nasal congestion and keep his nasal passages moist.

If you are worried that your child may have influenza (the flu) rather than the common cold, consult the symptoms in the following table.

<tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colsep="1" rowsep="1" align="left" colwidth="50"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colsep="1" rowsep="1" align="left" colwidth="50"/> <thead> <tr> <td><p>Cold symptoms</p></td> <td><p>Flu symptoms</p></td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><p>Mild fever, if any</p></td> <td><p>High fever</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>Slight headache, if any</p></td> <td><p>Severe headache</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>No aches and pains</p></td> <td><p>Severe aches and pains</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>Energy level relatively normal</p></td> <td><p>Extreme fatigue</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>When your two-year-old has the flu, he will typically be very tired and have a high fever (but not have cold symptoms). The flu can be dangerous, so if your child is lethargic and running a high fever, you should call your doctor to see if you should take him in. The flu is treated similarly to colds, and your child may need pain relievers to reduce his fever and ease his aches.</p> <div class="npsb"> <h2>Essential</h2> <p>One effective, old-fashioned remedy for congestion is a mentholated or eucalyptus-based chest rub, which clears the nasal and chest passages for easier breathing. A humidifier also comes in handy when your child is sick and having trouble breathing and sleeping.</p> </div> <p>Coughing is the body's way of removing foreign substances and mucus from the lungs and upper airway passages. Symptomatic coughs are often useful, and you should not try to eliminate them. If your two-year-old can't breathe or sleep because of a cough, however, you need to make him more comfortable by keeping him propped up in bed. Drinking fluids may help thin secretions and soothe an irritated throat.</p> <p>Dry, hacking coughs may respond to honey or lemon juice in hot water. Elevate your child's head with extra pillows at night to ease a dry cough. Your two-year-old is too young to suck on a cough drop, but you can offer him cough syrup to soothe his throat. No cough medicine has been proven to be totally effective for coughs, but if you find something that works for your child, use it.</p> <p><emphasis role="Bolditalic">Viruses</emphasis></p> <p>A number of childhood illnesses are due to infections, which are either bacterial or viral. It is hard to tell the difference between an illness caused by bacteria and one caused by viruses. Doctors often use a process of elimination to rule out a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. Most infections in humans are viruses — and antibiotics are useless against them.</p> <p>Whereas bacterial infections can be threatening to our bodies and therefore require medical treatment, in general people recover easily from viruses. Some common infections that are all caused by different viruses include:</p> <ul> <li><p>chickenpox</p></li> <li><p>the common cold</p></li> <li><p>Coxsackie</p></li> <li><p>croup</p></li> <li><p>Fifth Disease</p></li> <li><p>the flu</p></li> <li><p>measles</p></li> <li><p>mononucleosis</p></li> <li><p>mumps</p></li> <li><p>stomach flu or gastroenteritis</p></li> </ul> <p>There are also fungal infections, such as ringworm and candida diaper rash. Parasitic infections include head lice, scabies, and pinworms.</p> <p>Many times it is difficult to distinguish between a viral infection and a bacterial infection, which is why your doctor needs to examine your child if he is sick, possibly running some tests in order to diagnose your child's symptoms properly.</p> <p><emphasis role="Bolditalic">Diagnosis</emphasis></p> <p>As you can see from the list of potential illnesses — and from knowing that most children go through their lives without contracting the majority of these — it is impractical and somewhat unnecessary to explain each one. Instead, you just need to know that in general, a fever of 101°F or lower is likely to be viral rather than bacterial. Even a high fever of 102°F or above is probably viral as well, but it brings an increased risk of a bacterial infection. If your two-year-old has a fever in combination with other visible signs of illness, such as a rash, then you should call your doctor. Many infections have specific symptoms, such as a rash around the nose (impetigo) or a very congested chest (pneumonia). Explaining the specific symptoms to your doctor will help you both treat your child properly.</p> <p><emphasis role="Bolditalic">Croup</emphasis></p> <p>Croup — a hacking, barking cough — is very common in young children. In all likelihood, you have already spent a few nights in a steamy bathroom or out in the cold air with your coughing two-year-old, helping him breathe easier.</p> <p>Pediatricians treat croup in different ways. Some prescribe a steroid, prednisone, to reduce the swelling in the throat so that your child recovers faster. Antibiotics do not work for croup. Others will have you tough it out with your child for a few days. Croup usually is bad for one night, gets worse the next, then starts to get better, and is gone within a few days after that.</p> <div class="npsb"> <h2>Question</h2> <p><B>How can I ease my two-year-old's croup symptoms at night?</B></p> <p>Take him outside to breathe drier, cooler air, or if it's cold out crack a window and prop him up with warm clothes and blankets near the window. You can also try using a humidifier to see whether the steam helps.</p> </div> <p>As upsetting as it can be to hear your two-year-old cough like a seal, he is often able to ignore his symptoms and get through the day just fine. your child may get upset if he is unable to sleep at night. In that case, you may need to give him some acetaminophen, which might help him relax and ease his fever a bit. Even with scary episodes of croup in which your child is gasping for air and making honking noises, he will often recover after breathing cool air. Despite the best efforts of parents, some children do get into severe respiratory difficulty and need to be taken to the emergency room. Although a child is often better by the time he arrives, the emergency room doctor may see fit to treat him with a steroid injection to ward off further episodes.</p> <!--/gc--> <div id="pagination"><ul><li class="prev"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/raising-a-two-year-old/common-illnesses-and-symptoms/constipation-and-diarrhea.htm" title="Constipation and Diarrhea">Constipation and Diarrhea</a></li><li class="next"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/raising-a-two-year-old/common-illnesses-and-symptoms/conjunctivitis.htm" title="Conjunctivitis">Conjunctivitis</a> </li></ul></div></div> <div id="coda"> <div id="rel"><div class="n5">Related Articles</div><ul> <li><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/raising-a-two-year-old/common-illnesses-and-symptoms/coughs-and-colds.htm" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Coughs and Colds - Raising a Two-Year-Old </a></li> <li><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/raising-a-two-year-old/general-first-aid-and-medical-issues/red-flag-symptoms.htm" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Red-Flag 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