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    Respiratory Problems, Age 11 and Younger

    Respiratory Problems, Age 11 and Younger

    Topic Overview

    Most babies and older children have several mild infections of the respiratory system each year.

    Upper respiratory system

    The upper respiratory system includes the nose, mouth, sinuses, and throat. A child with an upper respiratory infection may feel uncomfortable and sound very congested. Other symptoms of an upper respiratory infection include:

    • A runny or stuffy nose. This may lead to blockage of the nasal passages, causing the child to breathe through his or her mouth.
    • Irritability, restlessness, poor appetite, and decreased activity level.
    • Coughing, especially when lying down.
    • Fever that occurs suddenly and may reach 105F (41C).

    Lower respiratory system

    The lower respiratory system includes the bronchial tubes and lungs. Respiratory problems are less common in the lower respiratory system than in the upper respiratory system.

    Symptoms of a lower respiratory (bronchial tubes and lungs) problem usually are more severe than symptoms of an upper respiratory (mouth, nose, sinuses, and throat) problem. A child with a lower respiratory problem is more likely to require a visit to a doctor than a child with an upper respiratory problem.

    Symptoms of lower respiratory system infections include:

    • Shallow coughing, which continues throughout the day and night.
    • Fever, which may be high with some lower respiratory system infections, such as pneumonia.
    • Irritability, restlessness, poor appetite, and decreased activity level.
    • Difficulty breathing . You may notice:
      • Rapid breathing.
      • Grunting, which is heard during the breathing out (exhaling) phase of breathing. Most babies grunt occasionally when they sleep. But grunting that occurs with rapid, shallow breathing may mean lower respiratory system infection.
      • Wheezing (which is a different sound than croup ).
      • Flaring the nostrils and using the neck, chest, and abdominal muscles to breathe, causing a "sucking in" between or under the ribs (retractions).

    Respiratory problems may have many causes.

    Viral infections

    Viral infections cause most upper respiratory infections. Sore throats, colds, croup, and influenza (flu) are common viral illnesses in babies and older children. These infections are usually mild and go away in 4 to 10 days, but they can sometimes be severe. For more information, see the topics Croup and Influenza (Seasonal Flu).

    Home treatment can help relieve the child's symptoms. The infection usually improves on its own within a week and is gone within 14 days.

    Antibiotics are not used to treat viral illnesses and do not alter the course of viral infections. Unnecessary use of an antibiotic exposes your child to the risks of an allergic reaction and antibiotic side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yeast infections. Antibiotics also may kill beneficial bacteria and encourage the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    Viral lower respiratory system infections may be mild, similar to upper respiratory system infections. An example of a possibly serious viral infection is bronchiolitis . Up to 10% of babies and children with viral infections of the lower respiratory system, such as those caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), may develop severe blockage of the air passages and require hospitalization for treatment. For more information, see the topics Acute Bronchitis, Pneumonia, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection.

    Bacterial infections

    The most common sites for bacterial infections in the upper respiratory system are the sinuses and throat. A sinus infection is an example of an upper respiratory bacterial infection.

    Bacterial pneumonia may follow a viral illness as a secondary infection or appear as the first sign of a lower respiratory infection. In babies and small children, the first sign of infection often is rapid breathing, irritability, decreased activity, and poor feeding. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections.

    Tuberculosis is a less common bacterial infection of the lower respiratory system.

    Allergies

    Allergies are a common cause of respiratory problems. Allergy symptoms in children include:

    • Clear, runny drainage from the nose or a stuffy nose. Children often rub their noses by pushing the tip upward with the palm of the hand ("allergic salute").
    • Sneezing and watery eyes. Often there are dark circles under the eyes ("allergic shiners").
    • Irritability and loss of appetite.

    Asthma

    Babies and small children usually do not have asthma . But the number of new cases of asthma increases with age.

    • In babies and small children, a hacking cough may be the only symptom of mild asthma.
    • If asthma worsens, symptoms may include wheezing and shortness of breath after exercise or at nighttime.
    • In severe asthma, difficulty breathing (using the neck, chest, and abdominal muscles to breathe) and a high-pitched sound when breathing (wheezing) are the most common symptoms.
    • Allergies and asthma often occur together. For more information, see the topic Asthma in Children.

    Other causes

    Besides asthma, allergies, and infection, other possible causes of respiratory problems in children include:

    • Exposure to cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke impairs lung growth and development. Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke, even before birth (prenatal), are more likely to have asthma and other respiratory problems.
    • Blockage of the airway by an inhaled object, such as food, a piece of a balloon, or a small toy. For more information, see the topic Swallowed or Inhaled Objects.
    • Problems that have been present from birth (genetic causes), such as cystic fibrosis .

    Babies and children younger than age 3 may have more symptoms with respiratory problems than older children, and they may become more ill. For this reason, younger children need to be watched more closely. The type and severity of the symptoms helps determine whether your child needs to see a doctor.

    Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when your child should see a doctor.

    Check Your Symptoms

    Does your child have a respiratory problem?
    Respiratory problems can affect the nose, mouth, sinuses, and throat (upper respiratory system) or the bronchial tubes and lungs (lower respiratory system).
    Yes
    Respiratory problem
    No
    Respiratory problem
    How old are you?
    Less than 3 months
    Less than 3 months
    3 to 11 months
    3 to 11 months
    12 months to less than 3 years
    12 months to less than 3 years
    3 to 11 years
    3 to 11 years
    12 years or older
    12 years or older
    Are you male or female?
    Male
    Male
    Female
    Female
    Has your child swallowed or inhaled an object?
    Yes
    Swallowed or inhaled object
    No
    Swallowed or inhaled object
    Has your child had surgery in the past 2 weeks?
    Surgery can cause problems that make your child cough.
    Yes
    Surgery within past 2 weeks
    No
    Surgery within past 2 weeks
    Do you think your baby might be very sick?
    A sick baby probably will not be acting normally. For example, the baby may be much fussier than usual or not want to eat.
    Yes
    Baby might be very sick
    No
    Baby might be very sick
    How sick do you think your baby is?
    Extremely sick
    Baby is very sick (limp and not responsive)
    Sick
    Baby is sick (sleepier than usual, not eating or drinking like usual)
    Is your baby having trouble breathing?
    Sometimes babies may have trouble breathing because of a stuffy nose. If your baby's nose is stuffy, clearing the nose with a rubber bulb may help.
    Yes
    Difficulty breathing
    No
    Difficulty breathing
    Would you describe the breathing problem as severe, moderate, or mild?
    Severe
    Severe difficulty breathing
    Moderate
    Moderate difficulty breathing
    Mild
    Mild difficulty breathing
    Do you think your baby has a fever?
    Yes
    Fever
    No
    Fever
    Did you take a rectal temperature?
    Taking a rectal temperature is the only way to be sure that a baby this age does not have a fever. If you don't know the rectal temperature, it's safest to assume the baby has a fever and needs to be seen by a doctor. Any problem that causes a fever at this age could be serious.
    Yes
    Rectal temperature taken
    No
    Rectal temperature taken
    Is it 100.4F (38C) or higher?
    Yes
    Temperature at least 100.4F (38C)
    No
    Temperature at least 100.4F (38C)
    Is your child having trouble breathing (more than a stuffy nose)?
    Yes
    Difficulty breathing more than stuffy nose
    No
    Difficulty breathing more than stuffy nose
    Yes
    Drooling and unable to swallow
    No
    Drooling and unable to swallow
    Would you describe the breathing problem as severe, moderate, or mild?
    Severe
    Severe difficulty breathing
    Moderate
    Moderate difficulty breathing
    Mild
    Mild difficulty breathing
    Does your child have a chronic health problem that affects his or her breathing, such as asthma?
    A breathing problem may be more of a concern if your child normally does not have breathing problems.
    Yes
    Has chronic breathing problems
    No
    Has chronic breathing problems
    Is the problem your child is having right now different than what you are used to?
    Yes
    Breathing problem is different than usual symptoms
    No
    Breathing problem is usual symptoms
    Is your child's ability to breathe:
    Getting worse?
    Breathing problems are getting worse
    Staying about the same (not better or worse)?
    Breathing problems are unchanged
    Getting better?
    Breathing problems are getting better
    Is your child's ability to breathe:
    Quickly getting worse (within minutes or hours)?
    Breathing problems are quickly worsening
    Slowly getting worse (over days)?
    Breathing problems are slowly worsening
    Staying about the same (not better or worse)?
    Breathing problems are unchanged
    Getting better?
    Breathing problems are getting better
    Does your child make a harsh, high-pitched sound when he or she breathes in?
    This often occurs with a loud cough that sounds like a barking seal.
    Yes
    Harsh, high-pitched sound when breathing
    No
    Harsh, high-pitched sound when breathing
    Does your child have symptoms of a serious illness?
    Yes
    Symptoms of serious illness
    No
    Symptoms of serious illness
    Do you think your child has a fever?
    Yes
    Fever
    No
    Fever
    Did you take your child's temperature?
    Yes
    Temperature taken
    No
    Temperature taken
    How high is the fever? The answer may depend on how you took the temperature.
    High: 104F (40C) or higher, oral
    High fever: 104F (40C) or higher, oral
    Moderate: 100.4F (38C) to 103.9F (39.9C), oral
    Moderate fever: 100.4F (38C) to 103.9F (39.9C), oral
    Mild: 100.3F (37.9C) or lower, oral
    Mild fever: 100.3F (37.9C) or lower, oral
    How high do you think the fever is?
    High
    Feels fever is high
    Moderate
    Feels fever is moderate
    Mild or low
    Feels fever is mild
    How long has your child had a fever?
    Less than 2 days (48 hours)
    Fever for less than 2 days
    From 2 days to less than 1 week
    Fever for more than 2 days and less than 1 week
    1 week or longer
    Fever for 1 week or more
    Does your child have a health problem or take medicine that weakens his or her immune system?
    Yes
    Disease or medicine that causes immune system problems
    No
    Disease or medicine that causes immune system problems
    Does your child have shaking chills or very heavy sweating?
    Shaking chills are a severe, intense form of shivering. Heavy sweating means that sweat is pouring off the child or soaking through his or her clothes.
    Yes
    Shaking chills or heavy sweating
    No
    Shaking chills or heavy sweating
    Does your child have a cough?
    Yes
    Cough
    No
    Cough
    When your child is coughing, does his or her face turn blue or purple?
    Yes
    Color changes to blue or purple when coughing
    No
    Color changes to blue or purple when coughing
    Has the coughing been so bad that it has made your baby vomit?
    Yes
    Vomiting after coughing spasm
    No
    Vomiting after coughing spasm
    Is your baby coughing up blood?
    Yes
    Coughing up blood
    No
    Coughing up blood
    Is your baby eating less than usual?
    Yes
    Change in eating habits
    No
    Change in eating habits
    Has your baby had a cough for more than 1 full day (24 hours)?
    Yes
    Cough for more than 24 hours
    No
    Cough for 24 hours or less
    Is your child coughing up mucus, phlegm (say "flem"), or blood from the lungs?
    This is called a productive cough. Mucus or blood draining down the throat from the nose because of a cold, a nosebleed, or allergies is not the same thing.
    Yes
    Coughing up sputum or blood
    No
    Coughing up sputum or blood
    Is your child coughing up blood?
    Yes
    Coughing up blood
    No
    Coughing up blood
    How much blood is there?
    Thin streaks of blood
    Streaks
    More than just streaks
    More than streaks
    Has this been going on for more than 2 days?
    Yes
    Coughing up mucus for more than 2 days
    No
    Coughing up mucus for more than 2 days
    Has the coughing been so bad that it has made your child vomit?
    Yes
    Vomiting after coughing spasm
    No
    Vomiting after coughing spasm
    Has your child had a cough for more than 2 weeks?
    Yes
    Cough for more than 2 weeks
    No
    Cough for more than 2 weeks
    Did the symptoms start after your child took a new medicine?
    Do not give your child any more of the medicine until you have talked to the child's doctor.
    Yes
    Medicine may be causing problems
    No
    Medicine may be causing problems
    Does your child have a runny nose?
    Yes
    Runny nose
    No
    Runny nose
    Does your baby have trouble eating or sleeping because of a runny, stuffy nose?
    Yes
    Trouble eating or sleeping because of nasal congestion
    No
    Trouble eating or sleeping because of nasal congestion
    Is there thick, yellow drainage coming from your child's nose?
    Yes
    Thick, yellow nasal drainage
    No
    Thick, yellow nasal drainage
    Has your child had the nasal drainage for more than 2 days?
    Yes
    Nasal drainage for more than 2 days
    No
    Nasal drainage for more than 2 days
    Is your child acting sicker than you would expect if he or she had a minor illness, like a cold?
    Yes
    Seems sicker than expected
    No
    Seems sicker than expected
    Does your child have a runny nose, watery eyes, and a lot of sneezing without other cold symptoms?
    Yes
    Allergy symptoms
    No
    Allergy symptoms
    Have your child's symptoms lasted longer than 2 weeks?
    Yes
    Symptoms for more than 2 weeks
    No
    Symptoms for more than 2 weeks

    Symptoms of serious illness may include:

    • A severe headache.
    • A stiff neck.
    • Mental changes, such as feeling confused or much less alert.
    • Extreme fatigue (to the point where it's hard for you to function).
    • Shaking chills.

    Call 911 Now

    Based on your answers, you need emergency care.

    Call 911 or other emergency services now.

    Temperature varies a little depending on how you measure it. For children up to 11 years old, here are the ranges for high, moderate, and mild according to how you took the temperature.

    Oral (by mouth), ear, or rectal temperature

    • High: 104 F (40 C) and higher
    • Moderate: 100.4 F (38 C) to 103.9 F (39.9 C)
    • Mild: 100.3 F (37.9 C) and lower

    Armpit (axillary) temperature

    • High: 103F (39.5C) and higher
    • Moderate: 99.4 F (37.4 C) to 102.9 F (39.4 C)
    • Mild: 99.3F (37.3C) and lower

    Note: For children under 5 years old, rectal temperatures are the most accurate.

    Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:

    • You may feel a little out of breath but still be able to talk (mild difficulty breathing), or you may be so out of breath that you cannot talk at all (severe difficulty breathing).
    • It may be getting hard to breathe with activity (mild difficulty breathing), or you may have to work very hard to breathe even when you?re at rest (severe difficulty breathing).

    If you're not sure if a child's fever is high, moderate, or mild, think about these issues:

    With a high fever:

    • The child feels very hot.
    • It is likely one of the highest fevers the child has ever had.

    With a moderate fever:

    • The child feels warm or hot.
    • You are sure the child has a fever.

    With a mild fever:

    • The child may feel a little warm.
    • You think the child might have a fever, but you're not sure.

    Seek Care Now

    Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

    • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
    • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don't have one, seek care in the next hour.
    • You do not need to call an ambulance unless:
      • You cannot travel safely either by driving yourself or by having someone else drive you.
      • You are in an area where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

    Try Home Treatment

    You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.

    • Try home treatment to relieve the symptoms.
    • Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect). You may need care sooner.

    Symptoms of difficulty breathing in a baby or young child can range from mild to severe. For example:

    • The child may be breathing a little faster than usual (mild difficulty breathing), or the child may be having so much trouble that the nostrils are flaring and the belly is moving in and out with every breath (severe difficulty breathing).
    • The child may seem a little out of breath but is still able to eat or talk (mild difficulty breathing), or the child may be breathing so hard that he or she cannot eat or talk (severe difficulty breathing).

    Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:

    • Your age. Babies and older adults tend to get sicker quicker.
    • Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care sooner.
    • Medicines you take. Certain medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them worse.
    • Recent health events, such as surgery or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them more serious.
    • Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug use, sexual history, and travel.

    You can use a small rubber bulb (called an aspirating bulb) to remove mucus from your baby's nose or mouth when a cold or allergies make it hard for the baby to eat, sleep, or breathe.

    To use the bulb:

    1. Put a few saline nose drops in each side of the baby's nose before you start.
    2. Position the baby with his or her head tilted slightly back.
    3. Squeeze the round base of the bulb.
    4. Gently insert the tip of the bulb tightly inside the baby's nose.
    5. Release the bulb to remove (suction) mucus from the nose.

    Don't do this more than 5 or 6 times a day. Doing it too often can make the congestion worse and can also cause the lining of the nose to swell or bleed.

    Symptoms of serious illness in a baby may include the following:

    • The baby is limp and floppy like a rag doll.
    • The baby doesn't respond at all to being held, touched, or talked to.
    • The baby is hard to wake up.

    Sudden drooling and trouble swallowing can be signs of a serious problem called epiglottitis. This problem can happen at any age.

    The epiglottis is a flap of tissue at the back of the throat that you can't see when you look in the mouth. When you swallow, it closes to keep food and fluids out of the tube (trachea) that leads to the lungs. If the epiglottis becomes inflamed or infected, it can swell and quickly block the airway. This makes it very hard to breathe.

    The symptoms start suddenly. A person with epiglottitis is likely to seem very sick, have a fever, drool, and have trouble breathing, swallowing, and making sounds. In the case of a child, you may notice the child trying to sit up and lean forward with his or her jaw forward, because it's easier to breathe in this position.

    Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:

    • Diseases such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and congenital heart disease.
    • Steroid medicines, which are used to treat a variety of conditions.
    • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
    • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer.
    • Not having a spleen.

    A baby that is extremely sick:

    • May be limp and floppy like a rag doll.
    • May not respond at all to being held, touched, or talked to.
    • May be hard to wake up.

    A baby that is sick (but not extremely sick):

    • May be sleepier than usual.
    • May not eat or drink as much as usual.
    Swallowed or Inhaled Objects
    Postoperative Problems

    Make an Appointment

    Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.

    • Make an appointment to see your doctor in the next 1 to 2 weeks.
    • If appropriate, try home treatment while you are waiting for the appointment.
    • If symptoms get worse or you have any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.

    Seek Care Today

    Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.

    • Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
    • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don't have one, seek care today.
    • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and seek care in the morning.
    • If the symptoms get worse, seek care sooner.
    Respiratory Problems, Age 12 and Older

    Severe trouble breathing means:

    • The child cannot eat or talk because he or she is breathing so hard.
    • The child's nostrils are flaring and the belly is moving in and out with every breath.
    • The child seems to be tiring out.
    • The child seems very sleepy or confused.

    Moderate trouble breathing means:

    • The child is breathing a lot faster than usual.
    • The child has to take breaks from eating or talking to breathe.
    • The nostrils flare or the belly moves in and out at times when the child breathes.

    Mild trouble breathing means:

    • The child is breathing a little faster than usual.
    • The child seems a little out of breath but can still eat or talk.

    Home Treatment

    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 don't 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 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, including any products with menthol. 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 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.
    Medicine you can buy without a prescription
    Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your child's fever or pain:

    Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

    Safety tips
    Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
    • Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle and box.
    • Give, but do not exceed, the maximum recommended doses.
    • Do not give your child a medicine if he or she has had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
    • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless directed to do so by your child's doctor.
    • Do not give naproxen (such as Aleve) to children younger than age 12 unless your child's doctor tells you to.

    Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

    Call your child's doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

    • Difficulty breathing develops.
    • Increased drooling develops.
    • Cough gets worse or a persistent cough develops.
    • Symptoms become more severe or frequent.

    Prevention

    It is common for children to develop respiratory problems (such as viral infections) because they are often exposed to other people who have infections and have not built up immunity. There is no sure way to prevent many respiratory illnesses in babies and children. Very young babies are at greater risk for developing complications from respiratory illnesses, so it is important to do what you can to protect them from exposure. The following may help reduce your child's risk for respiratory problems:

    • If you have a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu , or if you are caring for someone with a respiratory infection, wash your hands before caring for your child. Hand-washing eliminates the germs on your hands and the spread of germs to your child when you touch your child or touch an object he or she might touch.
    • If your child goes to a day care center, ask the staff to wash their hands often to prevent the spread of infection.
    • Make sure that your child gets all of his or her vaccinations, especially for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) and for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). For more information, see the topic Immunizations.
    • Breast-feed your baby for at least the first 6 months after birth, if possible. Breast-fed children develop fewer respiratory problems than those who are not breast-fed.
    • If one of your children is sick, separate him or her from other children in the home, if possible. Put the child in a room alone to sleep.
    • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. If you smoke, quit. If you cannot quit, do not smoke in the house or car. Secondhand smoke irritates the mucous membranes in your child's nose, sinuses, and lungs and increases his or her risk for respiratory infections. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
    • Avoid giving young children food or objects that may be improperly swallowed and inhaled, such as nuts, popcorn, small candies, or small toys. An inhaled object can lead to a respiratory infection. For more information, see the topic Swallowed or Inhaled Objects.
    • For information on preventing allergies or asthma, see the topic Allergic Rhinitis or Asthma in Children.

    Preparing For Your Appointment

    To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    You can help your child's doctor diagnose and treat your child's condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

    • Did the symptoms start as a cold but now appear to be worse than you would expect from a cold?
    • What home treatment have you tried? Did it help?
    • What nonprescription medicines have you used? Did they help?
    • What prescription and nonprescription medicines does your child take?
    • Does your child seem to have any symptoms that indicate an infection in one area, such as pain in one ear?
    • Has your child had any other recent illnesses?
    • Has your child had his or her routine immunizations?
    • Does another member of your family have similar symptoms?
    • Has your child been eating, sleeping, and playing normally?
    • Have you, your child, or another member of your family recently traveled, either inside or outside of the country?
    • Does your child have any health risks?

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
    Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
    Last Revised May 9, 2013

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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