Kids can get eight colds a year — or more. The common cold sends more kids to the doctor than any other illness. Most colds are caused by a virus found in the air and on the things we touch. Antibiotics can't treat viruses, but you can help your child feel better. What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Cold? stuffy or runny nose (may start out watery, then turn thick yellow or green) itchy or sore throat sneezing cough headache mild fever feeling tired eating less What to Do Ease discomfort with: acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed if your child is older than 6 months a cool-mist humidifier or steamy bathroom saline (saltwater) drops for a congested nose gentle suction of nasal mucus using a bulb syringe when necessary Offer lots of liquids — breast milk or formula for babies; water and diluted juice for older kids, but no caffeinated beverages. Never give cough or cold medicine to children under 6 years old. Call a doctor first for older kids. Never give aspirin to a child. Get Medical Care if Your Child Has: cold symptoms that get worse or last more than a week cough and congestion triggered by pollen, dust, pets, etc. a barking cough or a cough that is severe and happens in spasms trouble breathing a high fever and appears ill; or any fever in a baby 3 months old or younger a sore throat that makes it hard to eat and drink a bad headache Think Prevention! Remind kids to: avoid anyone who has a cold avoid smokers (secondhand smoke increases kids' risk of getting sick) wash their hands well and often, especially after nose-blowing and playing with other kids sneeze and cough into shirtsleeves or tissues — not hands Back to Articles Related Articles Why Does My Nose Run? You may have heard the old joke: If your nose is running and your feet smell, you must be upside down! But did you ever wonder why your nose runs? Read More Cold Sores You may have had a cold sore, but what are they exactly? Find out in this article for kids. Read More First Aid: Coughing Coughing is a healthy reflex that helps clear the airways. A severe or lingering cough requires medical treatment, but many coughs are caused by viruses that just need to run their course. Read More Coping With Colds Most teens get between two and four colds each year. Read this article for the facts on colds and ways to feel better when you catch one. Read More Hand Washing: Why It's So Important Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don't wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself. Read More What's the Difference Between Infectious and Contagious? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Respiratory Syncytial Virus Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this contagious infection. Read More Hand Washing: Why It's So Important Washing your hands well and often is the best way to keep from getting sick. Here's how to teach this all-important habit to your kids. Read More Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse Chugging cough medicine for an instant high is a dangerous, potentially deadly practice. Read More Fevers Fevers happen when the body's internal "thermostat" raises the body temperature above normal. This is often the body's way of fighting infections. Read More Colds Colds are the most common infectious disease in the United States - and the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.