How to Crack the Cold & Cough Cycle?
Created by Dr Shipra Mathur Updated on Jan 16, 2019
Yes! It’s that time of the year when no matter how many precautions you may take, your child still may come down with a cold, cough or flu. These could be allergic colds, viral or bacterial infections or the seasonal ‘flu’. For many parents, the real concern is not knowing if this is just the “usual” or is it something more “serious”. Let me take you through the cold-cough cycle, stage-by-stage that will help you identify the symptoms and take action accordingly. Let’s begin with stage 1…
Cold-cough Cycle Stage-by-stage
We have Dr. Shipra Mathur, pediatrician, to guide you through the various stages of the cold- cough cycle; she also tells you what to do when! Read on…
Stage 1- The Runny Nose:
For most children, nasal symptoms come first. There may be a runny nose, frequent sniffing or sneezing. The discharge from the nose is initially thin and watery. There may be minimal or no cough. The child may seem tired and irritable. These early symptoms should be recognized and acted upon immediately. Don’t make the mistake of “wait and watch”.
Encourage the child to blow out the mucus from his or her nose instead of sniffing it in. Apply a greasy cream under the nose to keep the skin soft. Give your child warm water and soup or warm milk so that s/he stays well hydrated. Your child also needs to stay warm and rest adequately. Avoid starting decongestant medicines on your own as they have been shown to have undesirable side effects. If the throat is sore, honey with warm water or lozenges may be given (but not before the child turns one)
Stage 2 - The Blocked Nose:
The cold may quickly progress to a blocked nose, especially in young children. This then interferes with feeding, sleeping and also results in difficult and noisy breathing. The nasal discharge now may be thick, yellow-white and not easy to blow out. At this stage, your child may develop a sore throat as well. Children often have a ‘wet’ a sounding cough despite their chest being clear. They may vomit up excess mucus that they swallow or you might even notice the same in their nappies. The congested stuffy feeling gives rise to heavy headedness or headaches and may cause ear discomfort as well.
It is important to relieve the nasal block early and effectively to make them comfortable. Use nasal spray at bedtime so your child sleeps easy – and on an SOS basis during the course of the day. Some babies suffering from a severe attack may need them as frequently as every 2 hours before their feed. Steam inhalation and hot showers also help to clear the nasal passage. For a sore throat in older kids, gargling with salt and warm water is helpful. Medication may be needed and it is advisable to consult a doctor at this stage.
Stage 3 - A Cough:
From here it could go either way. Your child may start to recover even as the cold lingers on as a dry crusty nasal secretion for a few days or the symptoms may worsen and the child becomes more uncomfortable both during day and night. There may be persistent mouth breathing and coughing that disturbs sleep. A cough is often ‘phlegmy’ sounding; there is throat pain and older kids often complain of a frontal headache and nausea. If the symptoms are worsening, the mucus discharge would now become thick and green. This still does not necessarily indicate that your child requires antibiotics…but the child is definitely in need of a medical review, especially if there is persistent fever or difficulty in breathing.
Word of Advice:
Although children do tend to bounce back quickly from colds, it always helps to give them an extra day or two off and limit their activities. Early nights and an extra nutritious diet will ensure a full recovery of their immune system, which will turn reduce chances of a relapse.
Did you find the information shared by Dr. Shipra Mathur useful? Does your child suffer from frequent cold-cough cycles? Do you now feel more prepared to tackle the next cycle? Any questions? Dr Shipra Mathur is here to respond to your queries. Please post your thoughts and queries in the comments section below.
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| Sep 18, 2017
Hello Dr Dr Shipra Mathur . Thank you for the remedies given. But my son is having continous cold and cough since 2 months now. Giving him all home remedies and visited the doctor too.. but the relief is just for a week and again it starts. have started homeopathic and stopped all other medicines. he has become very weak. he is having congestion in chest. what you suggest?
| Sep 19, 2017
Hi Paramjeet, about your son- the congestion is most likely allergic ..therefore persisiting for so long. He would need a slightly longer course of anti allergic treatment- either as a medicine or as part of the homeopathic treatment that he is on now. Since you have just started it, give it a bit of time before we review again to see its effects and what else may be needed. Take care,
| Sep 19, 2017
Dr. Mathur, this is truly a blessing in disguise. my girl suffers from frequent episodes of cold and goes through more or less the same stages that u have discussed. I am sure these tips would come in handy for me to manage symptoms and deal with cold effectively. thanks for sharing !
| Sep 20, 2017
Hi Sharda! if the colds are allergy related, they may persist as long as the triggers are around but usually not that severe and better handled with age with medication. If he is prone to catching viral colds, work to improve his immunity by giving a more wholesome nutritious diet.
| Sep 21, 2017
hi doctor,my daughter now have turned 2 in August and had started falling ill too much. . she suffered from high fever in April resulting in doses of medicines and Antibiotics,and since then from July ,Aug and Sept every month she develops cold then fever again resulting in doses of antibiotics. . her fever doesn't get down without antibiotics is giving antibiotics every month safe for her.. why is happening with her now. .