Your child has an upper respiratory infection (URI). An upper respiratory tract infection or cold is caused by a virus and may cause cough, runny nose, sore throat, and fever.  A cold can be spread to others, especially during the first 3 or 4 days. It can not be cured by antibiotics (medications that kill bacteria) or other medicines. A cold usually clears up in a few days. However, some children may be sick for several days or have a cough lasting several weeks.


-  For pain or fever use acetaminophen (Tylenol®) as directed. Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age.

-  Use a cool mist humidifier if available to increase air moisture. This will make it easier for your child to breathe.  Put plain water without any added medication in the humidifier.  Clean the humidifier daily to prevent bacteria buildup.  Do not use hot steam.

-  If your baby’s nose is full of mucus, use a small rubber bulb syringe to remove the mucus.  Loosen thick mucus by putting 2-3 drops of salt water (1/4 teaspoon of table salt in 4 ounces of water) in each nostril, one at a time, prior to suctioning.  Suction only one nostril at a time.

-  Give your child plenty of clear liquids. If your child is an infant, continue to give normal formula or breast milk feedings.

-  Have your child rest as much as possible.

-  Keep your child home from day care or school until the fever is gone for 24 hrs.

-  There are no medications that cure colds.  Cold medicines are not recommended and can be dangerous in children under 6 years old.

-  Complications such as ear infections and pneumonia may occur following colds and require additional treatment. Call your child’s doctor or have your child examined if your child has a fever that lasts more than 3 days or complains of ear pain or ear drainage or a sore throat.


- Wheezing or whistling sound while breathing
- Unusual drowsiness, sleepiness or irritability
- Breathing that is labored, very fast or noisy
- Flaring of the nostrils
- Skin pulling between ribs (retractions)
- Bluish color of lips or fingernails
- Croupy (barky) cough
- Repeated vomiting
- Not drinking well or little urination