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Why Are Common Colds so Common for Children?

All children get sick at one point or another and that’s to be expected, but why do children get the common cold so much? Compared to adults, the number of times per year a child will likely catch a cold is double. Before you can understand why that is, you’ve got to understand how a cold works from the inside out. 

What Causes a Cold? 

Colds are caused by a type of rhinovirus that’s highly contagious. The virus is carried in droplets that become airborne. You can breathe them in, get them in your eyes, nose, or mouth, or even touch a surface with droplets and then touch your face. Common colds are very easy to catch because the virus spreads so rapidly. Colds are not caused by the weather, but more time spent inside in the winter does raise the number of cases. 

Additionally, a common cold can spread extremely rapidly in schools and communities, which puts children at a greater risk for a common cold. Additionally, younger children are still developing autoimmune responses to common pathogens and are more likely to get consistent infections.

Signs and Symptoms

A cold typically brings headache, sore throat, runny nose, and sneezing. Some younger children might also suffer from a low-grade fever and loss of appetite. The first symptom is usually a sore throat, and the rest quickly follow. Your child might also be more tired and feel general muscle soreness. 


There is no cure for a cold, but you can manage the symptoms. Over the counter cold medicines, cough drops, and pain relievers are helpful is making a cold more manageable. You should always consult with your child’s pediatrician to confirm the correct dosing for any medication you buy over the counter. Keep your child home from school so they can rest. This will also prevent getting other children sick! Colds are most contagious 2-4 days after symptoms begin. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids so they’re able to recover more quickly. 


Preventing a cold is not always possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try! Hand hygiene is the most important aspect of prevention. Teach your child to wash their hands regularly throughout the day. Each handwashing session should last for 20 seconds and include lathering the backs of their hands, between their fingers, and their palms. Children shouldn’t share food, drinks, or school supplies, especially during peak flu season. 

It’s not possible to protect your kid from ever getting sick, but every parent wants to try! If your child begins to show symptoms of a cold or other illness, take them to a local urgent care center to rule out more severe conditions that require prescription medication.