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Common Cold

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

A common cold can, with small children, cause rise in temperature up to 40ºC. By raising the bedhead and use nose drops you can prevent the cold from developing into an inflammation of the middle ear. If your child becomes drowsy or has trouble breathing you must call the doctor immediately.

A common cold begins with indisposition, a head cold and a stuffy nose. After 1 to 2 days, the nose starts running with a clear fluid that later becomes thick and yellow. Cough, sneezing, a sore throat and rise in temperature are common. With small children the temperature can reach up to 40°C. The illness is caused by a viral infection.

Common cold is extremely common. It lasts from 7 to 14 days and there is no effective cure.

Prolonged and repeated common colds during the summer can be caused by hay fever. Consider hay fever in the case of:

  • Prolonged common cold (more than 3 weeks)
  • Itching in the nose and palatered
  • Itchy eyes that runs with water

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child


Common cold is highly contagious. The risk of contagion is highest right before the illness breaks out and the first days following the outbreak. Therefore, there is no reason to isolate the child, once it has common cold.

Day care:
The child is kept at home until its temperature is normal and the child can participate in its usual activities without extra care.


Nasal spray reduces the swelling of the mucous membrane in the nose so that the child can breathe better through the nose. Remember not to use nasal spray for more than one week. Lengthy use of nasal spray can irritate the mucous membrane to such an extent that it will continue to feel stuffy.

What can you do?

A stuffy nose is uncomfortable for the child and can lead to inflammation of the middle ear or sinusitis. You can raise the bedhead (15-20 cm) with books or bricks so that the head lies higher than the rest of the body. Cough and fever can be soothed. Warm drinks soothe. The child does not have to stay in bed, if it prefers being up and around and playing.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If the child continues to have a fever or coughs after the nose has stopped running.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the child is drowsy with malaise (lies completely still in bed and does not want to hear stories or play). If the child has trouble breathing.