"Modern medical science can cure the common cold in seven days. Left untreated, it may last as long as a week."

Colds are infections of the respiratory tract - nasal and sinus areas, throat, and down to the lungs - by certain viral organisms. They are our most common malady, and are incurable but not serious in themselves. Colds do have a panoply of complications, of course, which keep pediatricians busy in the winter months: ear infections, sinusitis, throat infections, even bronchitis and pneumonia.

There may be as many cold remedies as there are cold viruses, but nothing seems to work really well. The old saying above is "more truth than poetry."

Try to manage your children's colds as conservatively as possible, which means as little over the counter cold medicine as possile. The FDA routinely proclaims cold remedies to be worthless; I and most parents I know think they do offer some relief of symptoms. That's a reasonable goal: some relief of symptoms, rather than the total cure in 12 hours some people seem to expect.

Work with your doctor on this for his or her philosphy and respect it. Above all, don't pressure for antibiotics (truly worthless for colds) for that clear or slightly yellow nasal mucus. It doesn't help, and your child's germs tend to get resistant to the antibiotics if they are exposed too often to them.

Statistical studies of colds in young children are interesting, and may confirm what you have already observed about your child. Young children in day care have an average of 6.2 colds a year. This means that a preschooler will have cold symptoms on average about 20 percent of the year. The most common pathogens are rhinovirus (literally, "nose virus") and respiratory syncitial virus ("RSV"). About 20% of the time, the child has not one by two viruses causing the cold symptoms.

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