Has your child ever been in an endless battle with a cold? Constant sneezing and coughing which will disrupt your little one\u2019s daily activities? Worry not! In this second episode of AskMeDoctor!, we have Dr JoAnn Rajah, a consultation paediatrician from ABC children specialist clinic to answer all of our questions about common cold and flu in children. Q1: Define common cold Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Dr JoAnn: Common cold is caused by various viral infections. It's not a surprising thing that 50% of all cases who actually walk into the clinic do have a common cold. And in a child especially those in school-going age, they could have 6 to 8 episodes of cold in a year and we still consider that as something normal. But they tend to outgrow this as they grow bigger as well. Q2: What are the causes of common cold? Dr JoAnn: It is important to know that common cold is caused by viruses and it's not because of bacteria. Talking of viruses, there are more than 200 viruses that can cause a common cold. Most of the time, Rhinovirus has mainly caused 30%-50% of the cases. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock There are also other viruses which are quite common such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), CoronaVirus (non-related to current Covid-19), Enterovirus and the list goes on. Q3: How can I treat my child if he has a cold? Dr JoAnn: A common cold is caused by viruses and in terms of viruses, there's no specific treatment for it. The main aim is to reduce the symptoms which are associated with the common cold. That would mean to help to relieve your child, help them to cope against sneezing, runny nose, coughing, and more. \t Stay hydrated There are some home remedies which are simple that you can try but the most important thing to do is to ensure that your child is always well hydrated. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Whenever your child is down with a cold, they will naturally lose appetite to eat due to the nasal stuffiness. However, it is very important to ensure that they are drinking fluids frequently and stay hydrated. \t Extra pillow Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Do know that breathing as you lie down would be hard if you have a runny or stuffy nose and this will cause them to have problems with sleeping. Propping them up with an extra pillow would help. \t Honey Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Next, they will start coughing if they have throat irritation. Giving them a little bit of honey before they sleep at night would be actually quite beneficial. But do bear in mind that it is not encouraged to give honey to children under the age of 1 year old because of the fear of a bacterial infection called botulism. Q3: Does chicken soup\/any soup help cure the common cold? I bet some parents have googled these remedies. Dr JoAnn: As interesting as it is, I\u2019ve done my homework regarding this natural remedy. I went through a few clinical studies and surprisingly, people actually tested to see whether giving chicken soup actually helps in common cold and the answer surprisingly is, YES! Photo Credit: Adobe Stock It turns out that chicken soup does help you to reduce the nasal stuffiness to make your child feel much better. As mentioned before, when you are having a common cold, you might not have enough appetite and it can be helped by drinking chicken soup which is more palatable and easier to be swallowed. Q4: Is there any specific treatment that can help my child to relieve the cold? Dr JoAnn: The specific treatment for a common cold, once again, is to relieve the symptoms. Spraying saline spray or saline drop into the nose would definitely help not only to clear the mucus or to decongest the nose, but it actually helps to flush out virus from the nose as well. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Thus, it indirectly shorten the duration or the severity of the cold, which is a good thing. Another thing that parents can do is of course, spraying nasal decongestants into the nose. \t Nasal Decongestants Nasal decongestants help to dry up the mucus in the nose and relieve the symptoms a bit faster. \t Antihistamines Not just that, we also have oral antihistamines or flu medicines to be given. And these antihistamines do help you to dry and decongest the nose. But be CAUTIOUS before giving antihistamines, ensure to always choose a non sedating antihistamine for children under the age of 2 years old. Not all antihistamines can be given to children under the age of 2 years old. Do ensure to discuss with your doctor first before buying flu medicine over the counter. Q5: Is there a difference between common cold and flu? Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Dr JoAnn: Definitely! Common Cold \tCaused by 200 hundred viruses and Rhinovirus has mainly caused 30%-50% of the cases. Flu \tCaused by an Influenza infection which is a virus, whereby one of the commonest symptoms that it can cause in a child is a high grade fever. \tA persistent temperature of more than 38\u00b0C and can even rise up to 40\u00b0C which generally last from 3 to 4 days. \tThe child technically appears rather ill and unwell. \tSymptoms: 1) Headache. 2) Muscle pain. 3) Sneezing. 4) Runny nose. 5) Nasal congestion. 6) Dry, persistent and painful cough. Between the both of them, in terms of flu, there are certain things that you can take to shorten the duration of illness which will be antivirals which you do not need in a common cold. But the good thing about flu is, it is preventable through vaccination. Q6: How do I know if the cold is getting severe? Dr JoAnn: Once the common cold symptoms become prolonged, more than 10 days and especially if it is associated with very atypical other symptoms which include: Photo Credit: Adobe Stock \tHigh temperature (38\u00b0C and above) \tPersistent greenish, yellowish discharge from the nose \tHeadache \tFacial pain \tSevere ear pain \tDifficulty in breathing \tAppears very tired (more tired than usual) And if your child is experiencing these atypical symptoms, it is suggested that you bring your child to be examined by a doctor. Q7: When our children do have some of these symptoms, can they go to school? Dr JoAnn: Regardless whether we are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic or not, a flu virus is definitely very contagious. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock If your child is having sneezing episodes, coughing or runny nose, it is best to keep them at home before it can spread to others. And not only that, the main reason for children to stay at home is also to get them well rested. Q8: What is the best way to prevent the spreading of cold? Dr JoAnn: Once again, there is no vaccination for cold. You have to take precautionary measures and they are almost similar to what we are actually doing right now in the midst of the COVID pandemic which includes: \tFrequent hand washing Especially after touching multiple surfaces or after sneezing or coughing and before eating. \tNever touch your eyes, nose and mouth Do not touch these parts if you have not washed your hands as all these parts are a portal of entry for the viruses into the body. \tWear a mask It is very important for we have seen a significant drop in the number of children having a common cold by wearing a mask and social distancing. For all parents, do not panic. It is common that your child can have 6 to 8 episodes of common cold in a year. There is nothing wrong with your child\u2019s immune system but what is more important is to ensure that they are eating a well and healthy diet to prevent them getting sick. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Make sure that they get enough exercise too because exercising has been shown to actually boost up your immune system. Lastly, take all the precautionary measures that doctors and our health ministry has been advising throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. https:\/\/youtu.be\/NsIKA72a_X8 Stay tuned with AskMeDoctor! series at Motherhood Story and don\u2019t forget to catch up with a new episode every week at our Facebook page.