Is it a common cold or something else?
By Dr. Roslyn Oakley
“It’s just a common cold” doesn’t convey how miserable little ones can feel with viral upper respiratory infections. It can be hard to know when to make an appointment versus waiting it out. So, what is an attentive parent to do?
Here are some general guidelines for little ones:
Common symptoms of a cold include cough, runny nose, pink and goopy eyes, sore throat, body aches and even throwing up or looser stools. Antibiotics will not work against colds and prescribing them when they are not needed contributes to antibiotic resistance.
Unfortunately, there are no medicines to treat the actual virus unless it is influenza.
When to Call Your Pediatrician:
If fever lasts more than 5 days, and sooner if your little one is super fussy, tugging at ears, or symptoms just seem to be progressively worsening.
Runny nose for more than 10 days without improvement.
New fever after several days of cold symptoms.
Children at higher risk for complications from influenza: this includes children under 2 and children with asthma. Signs include body aches, chills, and high fever.
Peeing less than 3 times in 24 hours or once in 12 hours can be a sign of dehydration. No appetite? No worries—this is very common in little kids when they are ill. As long as they are staying hydrated their appetite will come back generally within a week or so.
When to seek immediate medical attention:
Difficulty breathing: look for the muscles between the ribs tugging in or nostrils flaring in little kids. Older kids sometimes can have trouble breathing without many obvious signs, so a child complaining of shortness of breath or seeming winded needs to be taken seriously.
Fever in a baby under 2 months of age (temperature of 100.4 or higher): The baby needs to be evaluated in the emergency room. Sometimes the fever can be from a serious infection so babies at this age need immediate evaluation even if you think they have a cold.
True lethargy or confusion: not just tired and sleeping more than usual—truly hard to wake up needs an ER visit.
When in doubt, reach out to us. That’s what we are here for!
Dr. Roslyn Oakley is a pediatrician with Physicians’ Primary Care of Southwest Florida) with offices throughout Lee County. www.ppcswfl.com