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Upper Respiratory Infection In Children, Ambulatory Care

An upper respiratory infection

is also called a common cold. It can affect your child's nose, throat, ears, and sinuses.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Sore throat or hoarseness
  • Red, watery, and sore eyes
  • Tiredness or fussiness
  • Chills and a fever that usually lasts 1 to 3 days
  • Headache, body aches, or sore muscles

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Dry mouth, cracked lips, crying without tears, or dizziness
  • Unable to wake up your child or keep him awake
  • Baby with a weak cry, limpness, or a poor suck
  • Child complains of stiff neck and a bad headache

Treatment for an upper respiratory infection

may include any of the following:

  • Decongestants and cough medicines should not be given to a child younger than 3 years old. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child and how often to give it.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.

Care for your child:

  • Help your child to rest as much as possible until he starts to feel better.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for your child to breathe.
  • Help your child drink plenty of liquids each day to prevent dehydration. Good liquids include water, juice, or soup. Ask how much liquid your child should drink and which liquids are best for him.
  • Soothe your child's throat. If your child is 8 years or older, have him gargle with salt water. Mix ¼ teaspoon salt with 1 cup warm water. Children who are 4 years or older may suck on hard candy, cough drops, or throat lozenges. Do not give anything with honey in it to children younger than 1 year old.
  • Keep your child's nose free of mucus. Use a bulb syringe to clear a baby's nose. You may need to put saline drops in your baby's nose to help loosen the mucus.

Prevent the spread of germs

  • Keep your child away from others for the first 3 to 5 days of his cold. Germs are easily spread during this time.
  • Do not let your child share toys, pacifiers, food or drinks with others.
  • Wash your and your child's hands often. Use soap and water. Have your child cover his mouth and nose with a tissue when he sneezes or coughs.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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