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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Viral infection in children

Viral infection in children

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Rhino virus, corona virus, common cold, excessive mucus in children, sneezing in children, how does virus spread, signs and symptoms of viral infection, risk factors for viral infection in children, treatment of common cold, how is the common cold diagnosed, complications, when to worry about the common cold.

Child’s Health

The common cold is an acute viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that affects the nose, throat, sinuses, larynx, and sometimes the lungs. Varieties of rhinovirus and coronavirus are the most common causes. These viruses are easily transmitted through contact with the secretions of infected people (e.g., handshakes, shared objects, kissing). Once the virus enters the body, it multiplies in the cells (often at the back of the nose) and causes an inflammatory response that produces characteristic symptoms such as excessive mucus (probably in an attempt to rid the body of the virus) and swollen airways.

Causes and Risk Factors

The common cold is transmitted through person-to-person contact, typically when an infected person touches the eyes, mouth, or inside of the nose and spreads the virus to the hands. Poor hygiene promotes infection. Kissing and sharing eating utensils with an infected person are common modes of transmission. Malnourishment and exposure to cold weather or rain do not cause a cold.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of a cold usually appear 36 to 72 hours after exposure. The first symptom to develop is usually irritation in the nose and throat, then nasal congestion, sore throat (pharyngitis), sneezing, coughing, and runny nose (rhinorrhea). Nasal secretions are thin and profuse initially, but become thick and yellow as infection progresses. Headache, body pain, and malaise also commonly occur, but fever is rare.

Symptoms are intensified by the following factors

  • Allergies
  • Emotional distress
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Stress
  • Weakened immune system.


Symptoms usually last 5 to 10 days and resolve without treatment in otherwise healthy people. Persistent, mild coughing is common following the resolution of acute symptoms and may last 2 weeks.

Complications: include acute viral sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), coexistent bacterial infection, and lower respiratory infection (bronchitis).

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is typically made by observing symptoms and their course. Characteristic swelling of
the nasal passages and throat can cause them to redden, which can be seen during examination. Lung examination performed with a stethoscope usually reveals normal function. The throat can be cultured with a swab to differentiate the common cold from a bacterial infection, such as strep throat. Cultures are usually performed if the throat or tonsils are red,swollen, and have white spots of purulent exudates (pus); if fever is present; if the lymph nodes in the neck are swollen and tender; or if symptoms persist longer than expected.

Treatment

Experimental vaccines have been used to treat certain types of rhinoviruses, but a vaccine is not available to treat the common cold. The commonly used drugs are antihistamines, decongestants, expectorants, cough suppressants. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen  may help alleviate body pain, malaise, and headache. Warm, humid air (from a vaporizer or hot shower) helps ease breathing for most people.

Prevention

Good hygiene is the best defense against getting a cold. Washing hands with soap and warm water can minimize the spread of infection.