How Long Does a Cold Last in Children and When to See a Doctor


Sick little boy in bed with a cold

How Long Does A Cold Last In Children?

When a child has a cold, every day can feel excruciatingly long and uncomfortable for the whole family. But how long does a cold last in children, and how long is a cold contagious?

Colds may last longer in some children than others due to their unique immune systems and other health conditions that are present. But a cold that lasts longer than normal may be a sign of a more serious medical issue that needs prompt attention.

This article will describe the life cycle of a cold and the average cold length in children. It will also offer advice on when to know if a cold has been lingering for too long and when to seek professional medical attention.

Average Cold Length in Children

Colds are very common among children, and some kids get up to six to eight of them each year before the age of three. After being exposed to a cold virus, cold symptoms will typically appear within two or three days. Then the average cold will clear up within one week from that point. Any cold that lasts beyond seven to 10 days with significant symptoms may be a cause for concern.

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Stages of a Cold: How Long Does the Common Cold Last?

The common cold typically passes through various stages from start to finish before it goes away entirely. This cycle tends to last about seven to 10 days, starting with feelings of a sore throat, sneezing, congestion, and fatigue on the first couple days. Then on days three through five, these symptoms will typically worsen, especially nasal symptoms of runny nose and congestion. Children may have mucous that is thicker than normal or abnormally colored, and a cough may develop at this time. By about day six or seven, these symptoms should subside and become more manageable.

How Long Is a Cold Contagious?

Another common question among parents and caregivers is how long a cold is contagious. Colds become contagious a day or so before cold symptoms even present themselves in a child. Then the cold will remain contagious for about five to seven days after the cold symptoms begin. Make sure to keep children’s toys clean to prevent germs from spreading within your family.

When It’s Time to See a Doctor

To treat kids’ colds at home, many parents rely on gentle and effective over-the-counter solutions like PediaCare Multi-Symptom Cold. But for long-lasting colds that don’t go away with regular treatment, it is a smart idea to call a doctor to determine what’s keeping the cold around for so long.

For very young babies under three months of age, colds can make it very difficult to breathe, so it’s important to seek medical care if the infant has trouble breathing, isn’t eating, or is vomiting. For older children, look for signs of rapid breathing, coughing that causes choking, green or yellow eye or nose discharge, blue lips, and earache. Cold symptoms in children that last more than 10 days and high fevers over 103-degrees Fahrenheit that last more than three days are also reasons to call a doctor for advice.

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