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Viral Infections in Childhood: The Common Cold


Upper respiratory tract viral infections are generally known as the common cold . Upper respiratory tract infections usually give children stuffy, runny noses for about a week. Colds are most often caused by 1 of 4 different kinds of viruses:

  • Rhinoviruses .
  • Parainfluenza viruses .
  • Respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV). RSV is the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in infants up to one year of age.
  • Coronaviruses .

Sometimes, a particular cold virus spreads to attack other parts of a child's respiratory system. Then the cold may lead to certain complications, including:

Symptoms and Signs

A child with a cold generally sneezes, has a stuffy or runny nose and sometimes a mild fever and may also feel sick or vomit, have diarrhoea, or complain of body aches.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is generally based on the symptoms presented. The cold should pass after a week or so of its own accord but if it does not, this may indicate complications which merit a visit to the doctor. For more details on the treatment of specific complications, go to the page concerned: otitis media , sinusitis , bronchitis , bronchiolitis or pneumonia .

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1., Children's Health Section:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

Common Cold in Children
Upper respiratory tract infection
    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   

Common Cold
Paramyxoviridae Infections

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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002