Colds and flu

Colds and flu are caused by viruses.

Children under 2 can catch up to 10 or so colds per year. If they do catch the flu, it generally will be only once a year.

A child’s cold symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing, mild sore throat, loss of appetite, and mild fever. Usually these symptoms will last one to two weeks.

Cold and flu symptoms can be similar, but flu is a much more serious illness. There is a flu vaccine available that your child can be given as part of his regular vaccination schedule.

What to do?

There is no cure for the common cold. It will go away by itself.

You can let your child continue his normal activities and playing if he feels well enough. You can also try to ease some of the symptoms:

  • If necessary, gently clean out his stuffed-up or runny nose (see Stuffed-up or runny nose).
  • Make sure he drinks enough fluids, especially if he has a fever.
  • If your child seems uncomfortable and has a fever, you can give him some acetaminophen. You can also use ibuprofen if he is over 6 months old. These medications will make your child feel better, but they won’t cure his cold.

Information to which you should pay special attentionHealth Canada advises against giving cough and cold medications (syrups, suppositories, etc.) to children under the age of 6. They are not effective and can be dangerous for young children.

There are many over-the-counter cough and cold medications on the market. These medications should not be given to children under 6. They are not effective and can be dangerous for them.

Using a humidifier is no longer recommended. If the humidity is too high or the humidifier poorly maintained, harmful molds can develop. If there is water running down the windows, the humidity level is most likely too high.