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Managing cold and flu symptoms


Common childhood infections -
Supporting parents

Relieving the symptoms of children’s cold and flu (e.g. nasal congestion, coughs, pain and fever) is a common preoccupation for parents. Some parents may feel unsure about which products are appropriate to use in babies and when to seek professional help.

Why is my baby getting one cold after another?
Help reassure parents by explaining that children get more colds than adults because their immune system is still developing - while an adult might get two to four colds a year, children can pick up eight to twelve7

By communicating some key information, practice nurses are ideally placed to help parents feel more confident about managing their child’s symptoms:

Treatment options for young children
Pain and fever:
paracetamol (from 2 months, e.g. Calpol® Infant Suspension) or ibuprofen (from 3 months, e.g. Calprofen® Ibuprofen Suspension)
cough syrup linctus containing glycerol are suitable from 3 months to 6 years (e.g. CalCough® Infant Syrup)
Nasal congestion:
saline nasal drops and
vapourisers (e.g. Calpol®
Vapour Plug & Nightlight)
can help ease breathing
Self-care tips7
Plenty of rest and fluids
For a blocked nose, raise pillow-end of cot by putting books under the legs to help make breathing easier (only suitable for children over one year old)
A warm, moist atmosphere can help breathing (take child into the bathroom and run a hot bath or shower)
Keep a child with fever at a comfortable temperature by keeping the room well-aired, using a lightweight sheet or letting them wear just a nappy or underwear
When to get help from a health professional:8

Fever with other signs of illness, e.g. floppiness, refusal to feed, drowsiness or persistent vomiting

Fever with febrile convulsion9 (loss of consciousness and becoming stiff with twitching arms and legs). Emergency services should be called or child should be taken to the nearest hospital if9

  • it is their first convulsion
  • it lasts longer than 5 minutes with no signs of stopping
  • there are also signs of serious illness, like meningitis
  • the child appears to have breathing difficulties.

Temperature of or above 38°C (101°F) if under three months

Temperature of or above 39°C (102°F) if three to six months

To support your discussions with parents about treating childhood cold and flu, expert videos, created specifically with parents in mind, are available on the CALPOL® website
Click here
  • Do not give more than 4 doses in any 24-hour period
  • Leave at least 4 hours between doses
  • A child should not be given this medicine for more than 3 days without referral to a doctor or pharmacist

Simple paracetamol dosing guidance can be shared with parents

Calpol Infant Suspension (paracetamol 120mg/5ml)
Age Dose How often in 24 hours
2-3 months* 2.5ml If necessary, repeat
once after 4–6 hours
3-6 months 2.5ml 4 times
6-24 months 5ml 4 times
2-4 years 7.5ml 4 times
4-6 years 10ml 4 times

*weighing more than 4kg and not a premature baby

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