Upper Respiratory Infection (Cold) in Children 1 to 3 Years: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Sinuses and throat in a child

An upper respiratory infection, also called a URI, is an infection of the nose, sinuses, or throat. URIs are spread by coughs, sneezes, and direct contact. The common cold is the most frequent kind of URI. The flu and sinus infections are other kinds of URIs.

Almost all URIs are caused by viruses, so antibiotics will not cure them. But you can do things at home to help your child get better. With most URIs, your child should feel better in 4 to 10 days.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever, pain, or fussiness. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • If your child has problems breathing because of a stuffy nose, squirt a few saline (saltwater) nasal drops in each nostril. For older children, have your child blow his or her nose.
  • Place a humidifier by your child's bed or close to your child. This may make it easier for your child to breathe. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house.
  • Wash your hands and your child's hands regularly so that you don't spread the disease.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child seems very sick or is hard to wake up.
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or increased shortness of breath.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.
  • Your child feels much worse and seems to be getting sicker.
  • Your child has coughing spells and can't stop.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: July 21, 2016