Colds in the Age of COVID – What’s a Parent to Do?
By Dr. Sarah Springer
Well, kids have been back in school for a few weeks, and we’ve definitely hit the start of cold season!
It’s harder than it used to be, of course, because kids are now sent home with coughs, colds, and low-grade temperature elevations that we didn’t even used to call a fever. Some schools require COVID testing before kids can return.
What’s a parent to do?
For kids older than 2-3 months, most cold symptoms are just that – a cold. They can be miserable for 3-4 days, then take 10-14 days to completely resolve. Kids can have a fever, thick green nasal drainage, and coughs, especially during those first few days of the illness.
If they’re well-hydrated, not having difficulty breathing, not in pain, and able to enjoy many of their usual activities, they really don’t need to be seen in the office. Acetaminophen and plenty of fluids at home can help them to feel better.
A home COVID test on day 1 or 2 is worthwhile, and again on day 5 if there was a known COVID exposure. But most of these viral illnesses will resolve on their own, and don’t need an office visit or any additional treatment.
If a PCR COVID test is easier, less costly, or required for a child to return to school, work, or child care, you can schedule an in-office nurse-only visit to take care of it.
As always – if a child seems sicker than a “regular cold,” or if symptoms worsen in that 7-10 day phase when things should be getting better, please call us – those kids should be seen in the office.
And, of course, you can reach out anytime, either through a Patient Portal message, or through a call to the office, if you have questions or concerns.
Dr. Sarah Springer has been a Kids Plus Provider since 2003.