An acute, usually afebrile, viral infection of the respiratory tract with inflammation of all the airways including the nose, paranasal sinuses, throat, larynx, and often the trachea and bronchi.


  • Rhinoviruses
  • Influenza viruses
  • Parainfluenza viruses
  • Respiratory syncytial viruses
  • Corona viruses
  • Adenovirus
  • Coxackie viruses.

Clinical Features

  • Nasal obstruction
  • Watery rhinorrhoea
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Watery red eyes
  • Headache and general malaise.

Most children with these features do not present to health facility. Young infants may have difficulty breastfeeding due to
blocked nostrils.


Most colds resolve spontaneously in 7–10 days. The following is recommended.

  • Avoid aspirin, which may increase the risk of Reye’s syndrome in children
  • Avoid cough and cold remedies in the form of antihistamines, cough suppressants, expectorants, and mucolytics.
  • Treatment includes:
    • Analgesics, e.g., paracetamol if febrile
    • Adequate fluid intake

Patient Education

  • The child’s nose should be cleared regularly and the child should be returned to the health facility if their condition gets worse.
  • The child should be kept warm and breastfed frequently; the nose should be cleared if it interferes with breastfeeding.
  • The child should be brought back to the health facility if breathing is difficult or feeding becomes a problem.
  • Note: Antibiotics are of no value in viral infections.