Children have on average up to 10 colds each year. And because colds are caused by 200 different viruses (germs), they can have several colds one after the other.

A cold virus attacks the lining of your child’s nose and throat, inflaming and causing them to produce mucus. The most common symptoms are sore throat, sneezing, runny nose and cough. It usually lasts for about a week in older children; and 10-14 days in under 5 year olds.


There’s no cure for a cold. However, you can help your child feel more comfortable, with:

  • Rest (not necessarily in bed)
  • Extra fluids (water, milk, juice)
  • Medications for high fever (>38.5, which is uncommon), sore throats: paracetamol or ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory)
  • Hot honey and lemon drink for over 1 year olds, ice cubes or lozenges for older children
  • Eating according to appetite (you don’t need to ‘feed a cold’)

See the GP if your child has prolonged or severe cold symptoms, such as >38.50 fever for more than 24-48 hours.


Some medications shouldn’t be given to children at all, such as aspirin, nor for colds in particular, like antibiotics. Though cough and cold medicines have been commonly used n the past, there’s little research showing proven benefits and (while there are no immediate safety risks) they can cause side effects.

As a result, cough and cold medicines should not be given to under 6 year olds: and for 6-11 year olds, only on the advice of your GP, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.

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