Treating Congestion in Children's Summer Colds

W. Steven Pray, Ph.D., R.Ph.


US Pharmacist. 2002;27(7) 

In This Article


Summer colds are often unexpected, since many people see them as a winter nuisance. While rhinoviruses are most active in fall and spring, ECHO virus and Coxsackievirus are most active in the summer. Both of these viruses produce mild colds, with little cough or sore throat.

Often, nasal symptomatology is the main complaint of summer colds. Children are the major carriers of the common cold, since they often carry the rhinovirus during off-peak cold seasons.[1] As a result, children suffer more episodes of the common cold than adults. The common cold and associated problems require more pharmacist nonprescription counseling time than any other minor medical condition. Patients are frequently overwhelmed by the wide array of products available to treat symptoms of nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, and sinus disorders.

The need for counseling is even greater when the patient is a child. In addition to seeking relief of symptoms, the parent or caregiver has the added burden of ascertaining which products are safe for the child's age. For this reason, many patient questions about the common cold involve treatment of children.

Parents seeking relief of cold symptoms in children usually have preconceived notions of correct therapy. A survey of parents of symptomatic children revealed that 42% believed both viruses and bacteria caused the common cold, and 44% incorrectly concluded that antibiotics were helpful for the common cold.[2] Pharmacists must address these concerns.


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