Common Colds and Children: What Works, What Doesn’t, and When to Call the Doctor

Common Colds and Children: What Works, What Doesn’t, and When to Call the DoctorWhen the common cold hits your family, it can really keep you down for the count! Colds can be especially hard on children. No parent wants to see a child battling coughs, congestion, watery eyes, and fevers. While you may not be able to take away a cold, you can do things to alleviate the symptoms and reduce the cold’s severity.

For conquering your child’s cold, check out our tips for what works and what doesn’t, and how to know it’s time to call the doctor.

What Works


While it may seem like mission impossible to get your child to rest, rest really is one of the most important things that can be done when it comes to the common cold. Even when the body is resting, the immune system is hard at work!


Making sure your child is drinking plenty of liquids when they have the cold will play a huge role in the breakdown of all the extra mucus due to congestion. If your child will tolerate it, warm liquids, like water with honey, tea, apple juice, and broth, will not only help to ease congestion, but will also offer soothing relief to sore throats.

Over-The-Counter Medicines

For children five years of age and older, over-the-counter cold and cough medicines can help relieve some of the common cold’s nastiest symptoms. However, it is extremely important that you do not give over-the-counter cold and cough medicines to those under five without a doctor’s instruction.
Babies six months and younger should only have acetaminophen, and
children seven months to four years old can have either acetaminophen or
ibuprofen. Saline drops are also wonderful for children of all ages.


Placing a humidifier in your child’s bedroom moistens the air and makes it easier for your child to breathe comfortably. Using a humidifier at night may help your child experience a more restful sleep for longer periods of time. Just don’t forget to change the water as needed.

What Doesn’t Work


It’s a myth that antibiotics can cure a cold. Because a cold is a virus, and antibiotics fight bacteria, antibiotics do nothing in cases of the common cold. In fact, using antibiotics to treat a cold actually does more harm than good because “inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Vitamin C

While pumping your child full of Vitamin C helps reduce the chance of contracting a cold, once a cold hits, Vitamin C won’t be much help. The use of Vitamin C, like drinking orange juice or taking vitamin capsules, won’t lessen the symptoms of a cold. Not to mention, the acid found in juice often causes more irritation to sore throats. Stick to Vitamin C as a prevention method, not a treatment solution.

When to Call a Doctor

No matter your child’s age, if they begin to run high fevers with their cold, experience vomiting or severe diarrhea, become lethargic, or seem dehydrated, it’s time to call your family doctor. While colds are common, they can do a lot of damage if symptoms are severe and left untreated, especially in infants and toddlers.

Request an Appointment

At LeBauer Healthcare, your child’s health is our highest priority. If you’re looking for a primary care doctor with your child’s best interest at heart, we invite you to request an appointment with us online! We offer exceptional care in a variety of locations across the Triad, including Greensboro, Burlington, High Point, Oak Ridge, Summerfield, and Whitsett.

Request an appointment today with the location that’s closest to you!

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