Should a Child Go Swimming When He Has a Chest Cold?

Splashing and swimming in the water can be a winning activity for kids, as long as they are healthy. If a child has a chest cold, you probably notice a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Knowing when to pull the plug on the swimming pool might be somewhat challenging, especially if your youngster doesn't want to miss pool time.

Two children smiling and playing underwater. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Chest Cold Symptoms

If your child has a chest cold, you might notice a dry cough a day or two before other symptoms hit, according to physician Charles Bryan, with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. As the infection progresses, the cough will become productive with mucus. Your youngster might also have a fever, headache and chest pain.

Watching Your Child

Encourage your child to rest while he's not feeling well. Push fluids to help your child recover – especially with chest congestion and if he has a fever, advises the KidsHealth website. Any time your child shows cold symptoms and feels under the weather, it's important to pay attention to the symptoms and slow down to avoid more serious illness. Curtailing activities such as swimming will give your child rest and will also avoid chills that can occur from immersion in the water. Chest colds often morph into secondary illnesses, such as bronchitis, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With bronchitis, your child will have chest pain and shortness of breath lasting between two and eight weeks.

Swimming Recommendations

Your child will be contagious from the time symptoms first appear, lasting two to four days, states the KidsHealth website. During the time of acute cold symptoms, your child probably won't feel well. He may have decreased energy due to the illness, which makes swimming inadvisable. People with contagious illnesses should not swim in a community area due to the possibility of spreading the illness, warns Professor Brent S. Rushall, with the San Diego State University. People with illness symptoms that are bad enough to affect activity level should not swim because the activity could lower strength and immunity. Wait about 48 hours after fever and the worst of the cough dissipates before your child goes back into the water, advises the WaterBabies website.

Getting Medical Treatment

Consult your child's caregiver if you have any question about whether your child should swim. Err on the side of caution and avoid swimming during a chest cold, if you're not sure whether swimming is a good idea. If your child's chest cold shows signs of complications, seek medical care. Symptoms of concern include fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, coughing up thick or bloody mucus, difficulty breathing or symptoms that last longer than three weeks, according to the CDC.

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