(406) 587-5870  f: (406) 522-1536   /   280 W Kagy Blvd, Suite G Bozeman, MT 59715

(406) 587-5870
f: (406) 522-1536
280 W Kagy Blvd, Suite G Bozeman, MT 59715

Common Cold

Colds are viral illnesses common in children and adults. The usual symptoms include runny nose, congestion, cough, and mildly decreased appetite and energy. Some colds also cause fever, sore throat, red or watery eyes, hoarse voice, sneezing, headache or body aches. Colds are often bothersome but are not serious. Colds are not caused by being cold.

  • Because there are many different cold viruses, a child can get multiple colds through the course of the year. During the winter, a child may get a cold once a month or more.
  • Colds are highly contagious and spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing and by direct contact with infected mucus or saliva. Toys and other objects touched by one sick child can spread the cold to other children.
  • Typical colds last 7 to 14 days. Symptoms usually worsen over the first 3 to 4 days, stay the same for a few days and then gradually improve. Coughs can linger for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Antibiotics are of no benefit in treating a cold.


  • Your child is having difficulty breathing or looks very sick to you


  • Your child's fever comes and goes for more than 3 days
  • Your child's cough is changing and seems worse
  • Your child is having difficulty sleeping due to cough or fussiness
  • Your child is not drinking well
  • Your child seems to be in pain


  • Run a cool-mist humidifier to loosen mucus and ease cough
  • Use 2 to 3 drops of nasal saline in each nostril to loosen mucus in nose
  • Suction the nose with a bulb syringe only if the congestion fails to improve with saline alone
  • Elevate the head of your child's bed to make breathing easier during sleep
  • Offer fluids more frequently
  • Treat with acetaminophen or ibuprofen following the guidelines inside the back cover of this book if your child seems uncomfortable
  • Do not give your child combination cough and cold medicines before 6 years old