Viral infections

Viral infections

If your child has a sore throat, cold or the flu, a virus is often the cause. This is a germ that spreads easily. The virus must run its course. For a cold, this is usually 7 to 14 days.

If your child is old enough, teach him how to wash his hands. Proper handwashing is the best way to avoid infections.

Your health care provider won't give your child antibiotics because they only work against bacteria. (Antibiotics that are prescribed too often will create germs that are resistant. This means that the germs are stronger than the medicine.)

The best way to protect your child from a viral infection is to wash his hands and your hands well after sneezing or coughing and before eating.

Be sure to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Tell others who have contact with your child to practice these precautions.

If your child breathes in or comes in contact with germs (bacteria and viruses), he may get an infection.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. For inclusivity, this guide uses "them" and "their."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016