As parents, we take pride in being on top of our children's health by keeping vaccinations up to date, by feeding them a nutritious healthy diet and ensuring they get the right amount of sleep but sometimes, it is not enough.
Children's immune systems are constantly evolving and it is just a matter of time before they are struck with a head cold.
Most common in autumn and winter, a head cold, otherwise known as the 'common cold', is caused by viruses (germs) that infect the nose, throat and sinuses.
What are the symptoms of a head cold?
The symptoms of a head cold vary from person to person but the most common complaints include:
- congestion or stuffiness
- runny nose
- dry coughing
- mild sore throat
- mild fever
- fatigue or crankiness
- loss of appetite
What can I do to help my child if they have a head cold?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a head cold but there are plenty of things you can do to help your child if they are feeling unwell and ease cold discomfort:
Firstly, keeping your child well hydrated is especially important when they are sick. Offer fluids little and often to help prevent dehydration.
Check your child's temperature with a reliable digital thermometer to see if they have a fever. A normal body temperature for children is 37.
Keep your little one comfortable and make sure they are getting lots of rest. You don't need to restrict activities completely but allow time for naps throughout the day and make sure they get adequate rest each night.
If a child is complaining about a runny nose, get them to blow out any excess mucus. For younger children and babies, use a suction bulb to help clear their airways.
If the mucus is thick, use saline drops or a nasal spray to loosen it or try to bring your child into the bathroom while you run a hot shower or bath. The moisture and warmth from the steam will help break up the mucus, making it easier to remove but it will also help if your child if they show symptoms a hacking or barking cough.
It is possible your child may complain about irritated skin around the nose from all the wiping. Apply barrier cream, petroleum jelly or a balm to help soothe it.
Don't waste money buying over the counter cold medicines or antibiotics if you are sure your child has a head cold - they won't work!
How can I prevent a head cold?
Work on hand hygiene. Frequent hand washing is the most effective way to prevent a head cold. Teaching children from as young as two to wash their hands regularly with warm soapy water is a good habit to instil in your child and will help prevent the further spread of viruses.
Cover the cough. Teaching your child to cough or sneeze into tissue is another effective way of minimising the spread of germs. For younger children, it may be easier for them to cough or sneeze into their elbow or sleeve.
Dodge germ hotspots by avoiding sharing toys with children who tend to place toys in their mouth a lot to help prevent the spread of viruses.
And finally, if you are concerned about your child's well being at any time during their illness seek medical advice from a pharmacist or your family doctor.