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Colds: Normal Viral Symptoms
Colds: Symptoms of Secondary Bacterial Infections
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|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|HOME CARE ADVICE FOR COLDS|
- For a Runny Nose With Profuse Discharge: Blow or Suction the Nose
- The nasal mucus and discharge is washing viruses and bacteria out of the nose and sinuses.
- Blowing the nose is all that's needed. For younger children use nasal suction.
- Apply petroleum jelly to the nasal openings to protect them from irritation (cleanse the skin first).
- For a Blocked Nose: Use Nasal Washes
- Use warm water OR saline nose drops to loosen up the dried mucus followed by child blowing or parent suctioning. Instill 2-3 drops in each nostril. (Caution: if under 1 year old, use 1 drop at a time) Do 1 side at a time. Repeat nosedrops until clear. Do nasal washes at least 4 times a day or whenever your child can't breathe through the nose.
- Saline nosedrops - add Â½ teaspoon of table salt to 1 cup (8 oz.) of warm water.
- Importance: A young infant can't nurse or drink from a bottle unless the nose is open.
- Note: Most stuffy noses are blocked by dried/sticky mucus and suction alone or blowing the nose cannot remove it.
- Use a wet cotton swab to remove mucus that's very sticky.
- Humidifier: If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier.
- Medicines for Colds:
- Cold medicines are not recommended at any age. (Reason: they are not helpful. They can't remove dried mucus from the nose. Nasal washes can.)
- Antihistamines are not helpful, unless your child also has nasal allergies.
- Decongestants: OTC oral decongestants (Pseudoephedrine or Phenylephrine) are not recommended. Although they may reduce nasal congestion in some children, they also can have side effects.
- Age Limit: Before 4 years, never use any cough or cold medicines. (Reason: unsafe and not approved by FDA) (Avoid multi-ingredient products at any age.)
- No Antibiotics: Antibiotics are not helpful, unless your child develops an ear or sinus infection.
- Treatment for Associated Symptoms of Colds:
- Fever - Use acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for muscle aches, headaches, or fever above 102Â° F (39Â° C).
- Sore Throat - Use warm chicken broth if over 1 year old and hard candy if over 6 years old.
- Cough - Use cough drops for children over 6 years old, and honey (2 to 5 ml) for younger children over 1 year old.
- Red Eyes - Rinse eyelids frequently with wet cotton balls.
- Contagiousness: Your child can return to day care or school after the fever is gone and your child feels well enough to participate in normal activities. For practical purposes, the spread of colds cannot be prevented.
- Expected Course: Fever 2-3 days, nasal discharge 7-14 days, cough 2-3 weeks.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Earache suspected
- Fever lasts over 3 days
- Any fever occurs if under 12 weeks old
- Nasal discharge lasts over 14 days
- Cough lasts over 3 weeks
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009
Last Revised: 12/19/2008
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Online
Copyright 1994-2009 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.