For parents of young children, colds are a fact of life. According to Cara Barone, M.D., a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a typical child has between seven to 10 colds (viral respiratory infections) a year for the first few years of life, especially if a child is in daycare or preschool.
The good news is that although colds can create a lot of misery for children and parents, colds are rarely harmful and most of them resolve within two weeks. The typical cold starts with a fever and often a sore throat. This may last one to three days and is then followed by a runny nose, congestion and coughing. These symptoms worsen during the first week and then gradually improve over the second week.
“Parents often have two pressing questions when their child has a cold,” Dr. Barone says. “They want to know how to ease their child’s discomfort and how to know when it is something more serious.”