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Coughs and Colds

Babies and children tend to get a lot of coughs and colds. Around 8 a year! As they get older and their immune system gets stronger the number of coughs and colds will get less.

Colds and most coughs are caused by a virus. There is currently no treatment that a doctor can give you for this. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. Most colds last for 5-7 days – the cough can hang around for longer.

Coughs are often caused by secretions (snot) dripping down the back of the throat. Especially when they are not old enough to blow their nose well. You can sometimes hear this as a ‘snotty rattling’ noise in small children’s throats.

There is currently no treatment for a cold and your child will not need to see a doctor. It is hard to see your child feeling poorly and colds can make your child feel really rotten. 

Stop the germs spreading by making sure everyone is washing their hands well. Have lots of tissues and make sure dirty ones go straight in the bin. You can find out more about how to stop germs spreading *here*

Take a look at the tabs below for more information.

  • Whilst a cold has to run its course, there are things you can do to help your child feel better;

    • Take time for cuddles. You might find your child wants you extra close for comfort.
    • Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. (Don’t worry if they don’t feel very hungry for a few days)
    • Warm baths and warm drinks can help stuffy noses and be relaxing before bed
    • Give children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can talk to your pharmacist about this – find a local pharmacist *here*.
    • Try saline nose drops or sprays to help your child breathe more easily – ask your pharmacist for details.

  • The coughs that can come with along with a cold can cause sleepless nights for all.

    • If your child is less than 1 try propping the legs of the cot on a couple of big books – to help any irritating secretions drain away
    • If your child is over 1 you can try an extra pillow to prop them up
    • Have a drink close by
    • Use Vaseline on sore noses and lips

    If your child has a pre-existing condition - like asthma - keep giving any prescribed medication – If you are worried that their symptoms are getting worse –call 111 for advice.

  • Call 111 for advice if your child has a;

    • High temperature (more than 38 degrees) that has not got better by giving paracetamol or ibuprofen as directed
    • They are not drinking fluids and are not having wees/ wet nappies
    • A low temperature (less than 35.5) and they seem quiet and / or unusually sleepy
    • Are being sick after all feeds / drinks
    • You have a strong sense that your child is ‘too poorly’ for it to be ‘just’ a cough or cold

    Most children bounce back from coughs and colds quite quickly. You know your child best if you are feeling worried than ask for advice from your pharmacy, 111 or GP.

Who Can Help?

For support or advice young people, families and professionals can contact:

Just One Number for Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services Tel: 0300 300 0123 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-1pm.

Parents can use Parentline Text messaging service: 07520 631590

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480635060

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help to you, friends or family, or you could join our online forum to speak to Norfolk Parents, click *here* to find out more.

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