A cold or upper respiratory infection (URI) is caused by a virus and there is no medicine that will cure it. A cold may last 1-2 weeks. Healthy children usually get at least six colds a year.
- Watch for signs of secondary bacterial infections: earaches, sinus pain, yellow drainage from the eyes, or difficulty breathing.
- Treatment for a runny nose with a lot of clear discharge: Sniffing and swallowing the mucus is probably better than blowing. Blowing the nose can force the infection into the ears or sinuses. For younger babies, use a soft rubber suction bulb to remove the mucus.
- Treatment for a dry or stuffy nose with only a little discharge: Most stuffy noses are blocked by dry mucus. Blowing the nose or suction alone cannot remove most dry mucus. Nosedrops of warm tap water are better than any medicine you can buy for loosening up mucus. If you prefer saline nosedrops, mix 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water. Put 3 drops in each nostril, wait 1 minute, then blow or suction.
- Increase the moisture in the house. This can be done using a cool mist vaporizer.
- Offer more liquids. When a child is not feeling well it is more important that he drinks rather than eats. When he is feeling better his appetite will return.
- Since there are side effects associated with decongestants we do not routinely use these for children under 6 months of age.
- Fever: Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches or fever. Do not give your child aspirin.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF:
Breathing is difficult AND no better after you clear the nose
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN DURING OFFICE HOURS IF:
The fever lasts more than 3 days
The runny nose lasts more than 10 days
The eyes develop a yellow discharge
You think your child may have an earache or sinus pain
You have other questions or concerns