Treatment of colds is aimed at providing symptomatic relief. Acetaminophen (found in Tylenol, Tempra, and other over-the-counter medications) helps to bring down fever and relieve the aches and pains of the common cold. ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, and others) can be used for the same purpose.
Note: In excessive amounts, acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Read package directions carefully so as not to exceed the proper dosage for your child's age and size. ibuprofen is best given with food to lessen the chance of stomach upset.
Do not give aspirin to a child
or teenager with a cold or other viral illness. The combination of aspirin with
a virus is associated with the development of Reye's syndrome, a dangerous
Decongestants, such as oxymetazoline (found in Dristan), phenylephrine (NeoSynephrine), phenylpropanolamine (Congespirin, Triaminic), and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) help decrease swelling and inflammation in the nasal cavity. As the term implies, they can provide relief from a stuffy and runny nose. Decongestants are available in pill and liquid form and as nose drops and sprays. However, if the spray forms are used for more than three days, they become irritating to nasal membranes, resulting in "rebound congestion" that can be worse than the initial symptoms. These drugs can also cause restlessness and insomnia. Because they can increase the heart rate, they are not recommended for infants.
Because the sneezing and discomfort of a cold can resemble that of an allergic reaction, many people try using antihistamines, such as brompheniramine (Dimetane), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), pyrilamine (Triaminic), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl), for colds. These medications dry up secretions in the respiratory tract. They have not been shown to be effective for the relief of cold symptoms, however. They are designed to counteract allergic responses, not viruses, and they are best reserved for their intended purpose. Antihistamines also commonly cause side effects, including drowsiness and dry mouth, and they are not recommended for children under two years of age.
There are many over-the-counter medicines that promise relief of the common cold. Most of these are combinations of some of the drugs listed above. In general, they are not the most effective treatment. It usually works best to give medications individually, as called for by your child's symptoms. Before giving any medication to your child, talk to your doctor about it, read the label, and consider the side effects. Always follow age-specific directions carefully.
If your child doesn't feel like eating, it's best not to force food. When children are ill, they seem to instinctively know what they should eat, and usually choose simpler healthy foods .Suggest juice, applesauce, broth, soups (especially vegetable or chicken soup), and herbal teas.
A child with a cold and fever is easily dehydrated and can become constipated. Plush your child's body with as much fluid as she will accept. If she become' constipated, this condition will most likely correct itself once she begins to feel better and resumes her normal diet.