Chicken soup really works, antibiotics are not always the answer and other important information you need to prevent a cold and survive the cough and flu season.
Why children catch a cold so quickly
Children under the age of three catch a cold six to eight times a year on average. “It’s thought that young children’s immune systems can’t kill the virus as quickly, as it’s often the first time they come into contact with the virus,” says Carol Baker, professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “In addition, children are less worried about their runny noses, which causes the virus to spread quickly through their hands, clothes and toys.
However, researchers have discovered that these regular colds can protect children later in life. The immune system of children who often had colds as toddlers probably learned how to recognise and combat many different viruses effectively.
A cold usually lasts 6 to 14 days – longer than most parents think. “Children are most contagious during the first three days, but you can still catch a cold from someone who’s had it for two weeks,” says David Jaffe, director of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Below, we’ve summarized the most important symptoms that children experience during a cold.
Symptom: sore throat
How long: Often the first sign of a cold, lasts about 5 to 9 days.
Symptom: runny nose
How long: starts on day 2 or 3. Lasts 10 days for 30% of the children, 14 days for 20%.
How long: starts about halfway through the cold and can last up to 3 weeks.
How long: half of the children have a temperature of 38 to 40 degrees for the first 2 or 3 days. Call the doctor if the fever persists longer.
Anti-cold strategies: fact or myth?
There are some common ideas of how to prevent a cold. Below, we explain which ones are true and which ones aren’t.
The theory: The easiest way to catch a cold is to transmit the virus from your hands to your nose or eyes through touch.
Does it work? Yes, but only if you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. An alcohol-based disinfectant hand cleanser is also effective.
Chicken soup makes you better
The theory: chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory substances that can reduce cold symptoms.
Does it work? Yes, it does! This is confirmed by researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “It may not be a magic potion, but it’s easy to digest, feels good with a sore throat and most kids like it.”
Cover your mouth when sneezing
The theory: Millions of germs are spread with each sneeze.
Does it work? Surprisingly, cold viruses don’t spread easily through the air without someone sneezing right in your face. In fact, you’re unlikely to catch a cold in the doctor’s waiting room or on an airplane.
The theory: You can catch a cold because of a cold
Does it work? It makes sense to dress your child warm at a low temperature, but a jacket won’t protect them from a cold. During a study, people were made cold and wet and then infected with viruses to see if they were more likely to get sick compared to people who stayed dry and warm. Although the cold people felt a lot less pleasant, they turned out to get sick at the same rate.
Skip bedtime kisses
The theory: Germs are transmitted by mouth-to-mouth contact.
Does it work? Studies have shown that kissing is not an effective way to transmit colds, as they probably have to get into your eyes or nose to get sick. However, some germs can be spread by a kiss, such as a bacterium that causes laryngitis.
Antibiotics help with a cold
The theory: A course of antibiotics will make a cold go away faster.
Does it work? Since a cold is caused by a virus, taking antibiotics makes no sense. It only kills bacteria.
With the information above, you are prepared for your child’s next flu. And in best case, you are able to prevent it! Give these tricks a try and let us know if they worked.