Centers Urgent Care

Preventing and Treating the Common Cold

common cold

The common cold may be a minor infection, but it can make you and your child miserable. There is still no cure for a cold, but at least there are several steps you can take to manage the symptoms at home.

Signs and Symptoms of a Common Cold

As an adult, you’ll experience two to four colds per year on average. Children have it far worse, with up to eight colds a year.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, colds weren’t as prevalent worldwide, but now that the worst of it is over, this annoying infection is back in full force.

It will probably also be why you make a couple of trips to the doctor’s office in 2023. Colds are the biggest reason for doctor visits in the US.

Symptoms of the common cold in adults include the following:

  • Blocked or runny nose.
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • White, yellow, or green mucus.

Symptoms of colds in children include:

  • General malaise
  • Scratchy throat
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Chest congestion
  • Sore muscles
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow or green mucus

If your child is under a year old, you may notice they are fussier than usual and not sleeping well. When babies have a cold, it often causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and congestion.

A cold lasts about two weeks in both adults and children. To spare your family the misery of red, watery eyes and runny noses, you should do what you can to protect them and yourself from viruses that cause colds.

How to Protect Yourself

Viruses from infected individuals can spread to others through close contact and through the air. You can get a virus that causes colds by coming into contact with respiratory secretions from an infected individual. You may also get infected by touching an item with the virus and then touching your nose or mouth.

To protect yourself from the more than 200 viruses that cause colds, you may want to follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands often, especially after shaking hands with others, and scrub them for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you wash between the fingers and the top of your hands. Keep hand sanitizer nearby for those times when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face. Your hands are not always clean, and when you rub your eyes or bite your nails, you provide an open door for viruses to enter your body.
  • Stay far away from people who are sneezing and coughing. Colds are highly contagious, especially during the first three days.
  • If your child or infant has a cold, you can get the virus if you come into contact with their stool or respiratory secretions. You may want to wear disposable gloves when changing diapers and a mask if your child is coughing.

Also, if you have a cold, it is important to protect your family and others from becoming infected.

How to Protect Others

One of the best ways to protect your family and others from catching your cold include taking sick leave if you work away from home. Staying away from the office will prevent your colleagues from catching your cold.

You must also keep your hands clean at all times. Wash them after you sneeze or cough, and discard tissues immediately. Disinfect all surfaces regularly, focusing on doorknobs, taps, countertops, and light switches.

It’s also a good idea to wear a mask inside the house and when you’re near your family. Also, wear a mask if you have to go out, and avoid hugging or kissing other people.

Don’t share personal items such as towels, plates, utensils, or bedding. Sharing these items is one of the fastest ways that germs spread.

If your child does get sick, keep them out of school or daycare until they are no longer coughing or sneezing.

Sometimes it feels as though a cold may drag on forever, but there are several things you can do to make yourself and your child feel better if you’re sick.

How to Feel Better

Since there is no cure for a cold, you should focus on relieving the symptoms. One of the best ways to get some relief and comfort is to drink enough water every day.

If your child is sick, encourage them to drink water or juice. Avoid sodas and coffee, as caffeine can cause dehydration. You should, however, drink some warm liquids such as soup or tea to thin mucus and relieve congestion.

You must also get enough rest. It may not be easy to rest as much when you and your child are both sick, but do your best to sleep when your child is sleeping.

If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water every few hours. Invest in a cold mist humidifier to help with stuffy noses and chests. Don’t give your child over-the-counter cold or cough medicines under any circumstances without speaking to a doctor first.

If your child has ASD and catches a cold that doesn’t seem to improve, it may be time to visit an urgent care center for treatment. The same goes for when you have a cold that gets worse over time.

When to Visit Urgent Care

A visit to urgent care is warranted under the following circumstances:

  • If your child has swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat, and trouble swallowing. Swollen and tender lymph nodes could indicate strep throat, which must be treated with antibiotics to prevent serious complications.
  • If you or your child has cold symptoms for more than a week without feeling better, it is best to visit urgent care to make sure nothing else is going on.
  • If you are coughing up excessive amounts of mucus streaked with blood, and you have a fever over 101 degrees, you may have pneumonia and not a cold. Pneumonia is serious and requires antibiotics to prevent it from becoming life-threatening.
  • If you notice labored breathing in your child or severe lethargy, they may have the flu. You’ll want to take them to urgent care immediately at this point to prevent any further serious complications.


Most of the time, you and your family will overcome a cold in less than two weeks. While you can’t always prevent colds, you can help relieve the symptoms using tried-and-true methods.

Centers Urgent Care is here for all your medical needs. Our experienced providers are ready to help. Find a location closest to you here

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