Viral Upper Respiratory Illnesses

Posted on Dec 18, 2013

Here is a new review of many studies concerning the length of time that the common cold takes to resolve. While we are always happy to see and evaluate a sick child, it’s good for parents to know what to expect from the majority of the common cold viruses.

Children’s coughs and colds can last up to two or three weeks and earaches may take a week to get better, according to a new review of past studies.

Researchers said they hope the findings help reassure both doctors and parents that respiratory symptoms can last “longer than previously appreciated” but typically don’t require treatment.

“A lot of times, we just have to give it a bit more time…

Among children with earaches, 90 percent were better within seven to eight days of visiting a primary care doctor or the emergency room. Most kids with the common cold were better after 15 days, while it took 25 days for almost all children with a cough to be fully recovered.

Sore throats typically lasted anywhere from two to seven days, depending on the study.

“You can feel really crummy from a virus, but the symptoms of fever and runny, stuffy nose and cough by themselves aren’t dangerous for the child,” she told Reuters Health.

Tea with honey or nasal saline drops may help ease kids’ symptoms, she said, but over-the-counter medicines often don’t do much good for young people. Antibiotics also won’t help if the culprit is a virus.”

However, this statement is always good to remember as well:

“There are still some situations when children with respiratory symptoms DO need to see a doctor, that’s when their symptoms keep getting worse, or don’t start slowly getting better over time as expected. Kids who are having trouble breathing or have other serious symptoms also need to go to the doctor.”

I would add to that list: Any significant cough in a young baby should always be looked at. A very croupy (barky) cough may need treatment, and lastly anytime children are running fevers over 103 we should evaluate them for Influenza during the Flu season because there is a medication to help with the flu if we catch it within the first two days…

Here is a link to the entire article.