Cough, Cold & Flu


If your child is experiencing a cough that’s not due to seasonal allergies, it may be caused by the cold or the flu. Both the common cold and the flu are upper respiratory infections (URIs) caused by viruses, and are typically spread through respiratory droplets.

Symptoms of a cold come on over a couple of days and include cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and fever in younger children and infants. These symptoms fade over the course of 1 to 2 weeks.

The flu is more aggressive with symptoms coming on suddenly and lasting for a longer period of time. Symptoms of the flu include, body and muscle aches, chills, fever, headaches, feelings of exhaustion, and diarrhea and vomiting in children. These symptoms are the worst in the first 3 to 4 days and fade away in 5 to 7 days for healthy children, potentially taking up to 2 weeks to fully recover.


Antibiotics won’t do anything for these viruses, so treatment is supportive care, which looks like caring for the symptoms. Be sure your child stays hydrated and gets plenty of rest, and remember to keep them home if they have a fever. Here are some recommended supportive care treatments for various cold and flu symptoms.

  • Headache/Fever – Tylenol for children greater than 2 months, and Ibuprofen for children greater than 6 months. Be sure to follow recommended dosages.
  • Cough – Honey can help soothe your child’s cough. Avoid cough medication for children less than 12 years of age.
  • Congestion – Nasal suction for children who are too young to clear their own nasal passages. A neti pot can provide relief as well.