Managing kids colds during the school year

Parents shouldn't give kids under age 4 over-the-counter cough and cold medicines

NEW YORK (CNN) – It’s back to school time and chances are, they’ll bring home more than homework.

“If your child comes home with a cold, there are some things to keep in mind that can make the annual rite of passage a bit easier,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, a Pediatrician.

A constant struggle for many parents is knowing how and when to treat children with colds.

“Kids get colds more often than adults on the order of once every month or the average of 8 to 10 per year. And that’s because their immune system aren’t as strong as ours,” said Dr. Shu.

Colds are caused by viruses, and the all-too-familiar symptoms can include a runny nose, cough, fever, sneezing and irritability. Doctor Shu says a cold can last for 2 or 3 weeks, however the worst symptoms tend to pass after a few days.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents shouldn’t give kids under age 4 over-the-counter cough and cold medicines because they can be harmful.

For a fever, the AAP recommends acetaminophen for infants from birth to 6 months of age. Once they’re 6 months or older, it’s okay to give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

“Over the age of 2, kids tend to handle fevers a little bit better so I tend to say treat the child and not the fever so if there’s a really high fever but the child is acting well then you don’t have to get too concerned,” said Dr. Shu.

Even though colds aren’t curable, there is a bright side, “…every time that your child does get a cold it does strengthen his immune system,” said Dr. Shu.

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