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What to look out for if your child has a cold

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It is the rainy season and it is important that parents guard their toddlers and children from cold. Cold is a common disease, especially among children and can be deadly in its severe state, says Midwife and Nurse Tosin Mathew-Akinsiku. “It is caused by viruses (germs) that infect the nostril and throat. Symptoms of cold in children include sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, tiredness and cough.  

“Colds are common during the raining season. It affects young children more because their body defenses (immune system) haven’t been built up enough to withstand the viruses that cause it. That’s why they can get as many as eight to 10 colds each year before they are two years old.”

According to Mathew-Akinsiku who doubles as the founder of Pregnancy Lounge, “Cold becomes harmful to children when they are predisposed regularly to the cause without care. Although, children can recover from cold within a period of seven to 10 days, its effect is still the main reason they miss daycare and school. In its severe state, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or respiratory conditions may develop serious illness, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.”

She said that some respiratory viruses that cause colds in older children and adults might cause more serious illness in babies and toddlers. These illnesses include hoarseness, noisy breathing, barking cough, pneumonia (lung infection), bronchiolitis (wheezing, trouble breathing), or sore eyes, sore throat and neck gland swelling. Children with these conditions need to be seen by a doctor.

Mathew-Akinsiku advised that children of all ages should see a doctor if the cold seems to be causing more serious problems especially when the child’s breathing is rapid or seems to be working hard to breathe, coughing so bad that he is choking or vomiting, wakes in the morning with one or both eyes stuck shut with dried yellow pus, is much sleepier than usual, doesn’t want to feed or play, or is very fussy and cannot be comforted. Has thick or coloured (yellow, green) discharge from the nose for more than 10 to 14 days. Please visit the hospital, if your child:
. Shows any sign of a middle ear infection (ear pain, drainage from the ear), which can be caused by a cold. 
. (For babies under 3 months of age), finds it hard to breathe through his congested nose, which make feeding difficult. 
. If baby has trouble breathing, not eating or is vomiting, or has a fever (temperature of 38.5°C or higher).

She stressed that cold can be deadly if it becomes severe, as not giving timely care to a child with cold can have fatal ending. Your newborn is at higher risk for colds and other infections for the first four to six weeks. That is because his immune system – the body’s defense against germs, is not matured yet. 

“Most children get five to seven or more colds each year, this gives rise to diseases like ear and throat infections, especially for kids with infected brothers or sisters, or who a child spends time with in daycare. For this age group, there’s no big mystery about how colds spread. It easily spreads around them innocently.”

“To prevent your baby from catching a cold, it’s important we take care of our personal hygiene so as not to re-infect them. Teach them to clean their nose with clean tissues.

Keep your child at home when he’s infected with cold to prevent the spread to others. Make sure he gets enough sleep and gets plenty of time to play outdoors. Avoid shared items, it’s preferable not to share cups, bowls and cutlery, especially if someone in the family has a cold, so germs don’t spread.”

However, when coughing or sneezing, you should cover your mouth and teach your child to do the same. If you practice co-sleeping, keep a distance of 10 to 15 inches between heads so that the cold doesn’t spread. A good diet will strengthen their defenses and help protect them from the cold and other diseases. If your children already eat solids, their diet should include fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C, as well as fish and milk. Replace cold drinks with warm drinks, water.


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