Respiratory Self Help

Respiratory Disorders are the most distressing if not managed in proper time

Most children have 7 to 10 mild upper respiratory infections each year. Your child may feel uncomfortable and have a stuffy nose. The infection is usually better within a week and is usually gone within 14 days.

Home treatment is appropriate for mild symptoms and can help your child feel better.

  • Keep the room temperature comfortable for you and your child. A hot, dry environment will increase nasal congestion.
  • Raise the head of your baby’s bed about 1 in. (2.5 cm) to 2 in. (5 cm) by placing blocks under the crib. Do not raise just the mattress because it may leave a gap for your baby to roll into. Do not raise the head of the bed if your baby is younger than 6 months.
  • Prevent dehydration.
    • Let your baby breast-feed more often or give your baby extra bottles. Liquids may help thin the mucus and also reduce fever (if present).
    • Do not awaken your child during naps or at night to take fluids.
    • Do not force your child to take fluids, which may cause your child to vomit.
  • Give your child extra cuddling and distraction.
  • Let your child get extra rest to fight the infection.
  • Do not give your child leftover antibiotics or antibiotics or other medicines prescribed for someone else.
  • Put a vaporizer or humidifier in your child’s room if he or she is breathing through the mouth.
    • Lukewarm mist may help your child feel more comfortable by soothing the swollen air passages. It may also help with your child’s hoarseness. But do not let your child’s room get uncomfortably cold or very damp.
    • Use a shallow pan of water to provide moisture in the air through evaporation if you do not have a humidifier. Place the pan where no one will trip on it or fall into it.
  • If your child has a stuffy nose:
    • Use saline nose drops to help with nasal congestion.
    • Use a rubber bulb to suction the nose sparingly. It will help reduce nasal drainage if your baby is having difficulty breast-feeding or bottle-feeding or seems to be short of breath. Babies often do not like having their noses suctioned with a rubber bulb.
    • Do not give your child oral antihistamines or decongestants unless directed to do so by your child’s doctor. Antihistamines and decongestants can cause your child to behave differently, making it harder to tell how sick he or she really is. Studies show that over-the-counter cough medicines do not work very well. And some of these medicines can cause problems if you use too much of them. It is important to use medicines correctly and to keep them out of the reach of children to prevent accidental use.
    • If your child’s doctor prescribes decongestant nose drops for your child’s stuffy nose, put 1 or 2 drops in one side of the nose only.
  • Use only when needed, such as before feeding or sleep.
  • Alternate the side of the nose that you put the drops in.
  • Don’t use nose drops for longer than 3 days.
  • Don’t share the nose drops with other members of the family.
  • If your child has a cough:
    • Honey or lemon juice in hot water or tea may help a dry cough. Do not give honey to a child younger than 1 year old. It may have bacteria that are harmful to babies.
    • Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children, so check the label first. If you do give these medicines to a child, always follow the directions about how much to give based on the child?s age and weight. For more information, see the topic Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children.
    • If your child has a barking cough during the night, you can help him or her breathe better by following the home treatment for a barking cough.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Use the Check Your Symptoms section to evaluate your child’s symptoms if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Difficulty breathing develops, such as:
  • o Shallow, rapid breathing.
  • o Flaring nostrils.
  • o Using the neck, chest, and abdominal muscles to breathe, causing a “sucking in” between or under the ribs (retractions).
  • o Sitting up or leaning forward to breathe.
  • o Pale, gray, bluish, or mottled skin or bluish lips (cyanosis).
  • Increased drooling develops.
  • Cough gets worse or a persistent cough develops.
  • Symptoms become more severe or frequent.

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