Cough and cold

Coughs and colds are extremely common in young children. Over the first few years of life, your child might have these every month.

If your child has any of the following:
  • Breathing very fast or breathing that stops or pauses
  • Makes a grunting noise every time they breathe out
  • A harsh breath noise as they breathe in (stridor) present all of the time (even when they are not upset)
  • Becomes pale, blue, mottled and/or unusually cold to touch
  •  Difficult to wake up, very sleepy or confused
  • Weak, high-pitched, continuous cry or can’t be settled
  • Has a fit (seizure)
  • Is under 3 months old with temperature more than 38°C or under 36°C (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)
  •  Has a rash that does not go away with pressure (see the 'Glass Test')

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following:

  • Working hard to breathe, drawing in of the muscles below the ribs 
  • A harsh noise as they breathe in (stridor) only when upset
  • Dry skin, lips or tongue
  • Not had a wee or wet nappy in last 8 hours
  • Poor feeding in babies (less than half of their usual amount)
  • Irritable (Unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or hugs even after their fever has come down)
  • Is 3-6 months old with temperature 39oC or above (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)
  • Temperature of 38oC or above for more than 5 days or shivering with fever (rigors)
  • Temperature less than 36°C in those over 3 months
  • Getting worse or you are worried about them

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111

If symptoms persist for 4 hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a member of staff from your GP practice or to NHS 111 staff, recheck that your child has not developed any red features

If your child has none of the above

Watch them closely for any change and look out for any red or amber symptoms

Additional advice is also available for families for help cope with crying in otherwise well babies

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across North East and North Cumbria with consent from the Hampshire development groups.

Choose appropriate sized spacer with mask (or mouthpiece if child is over 3 years with good technique and is not significantly short of breath).

 

 

  1. Shake the inhaler well and remove cap.

  2. Fit the inhaler into the opening at the end of the spacer.

  3. Place mask over the child’s face or mouthpiece in their mouth ensuring a good seal

  4. Press the inhaler once and allow the child to take 5 slow breaths between each dose or count to 10

  5. Remove the inhaler and shake between every puff. Wait 1 minute between puffs.

    Repeat steps 1 – 5 for subsequent doses
    Plastic spacers should be washed before 1st use and every month as per manufacturer’s guidelines

Videos on inhaler technique.

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  • Keep your child well hydrated by offering them lots to drink
  • Most children with coughs and colds do not require treatment with antibiotics. 
  • If your child seems to be in pain or discomfort, you can give your child Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, following the instructions on the container.
  • Do not give cough syrup. It is not recommended for children under 6 years. It can make children sleepy and does not help.
  • Try using saline nose drops or spray if your baby has a blocked nose.
  • For children over 2 years, vapour rubs (containing camphor, menthol and/or eucalyptus) may help children sleep better.

  • Keep your child well hydrated by offering them lots of to drink
  • If your child seems to be in pain or discomfort, you can give your child Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, following the instructions on the container.
  • Do not give cough syrup. It is not recommended for children under 6 years. It can make children sleepy and does not help.
  • Try using saline nose drops or spray if your baby has a blocked nose
  • For children over 1 year, a spoon of honey (perhaps in a warm drink) half an hour before bed may help them to wake less often in the night
  • For children over 2 years, vapour rubs (containing camphor, menthol and/or eucalyptus) may help children sleep better

  • Coughs and colds can continue for weeks before they get better.
  • Over the winter, children are likely to get one viral infection after another, which can make you think that they are never well. Things will get better in the summer months.
  • Having a cough for 2 or 3 weeks does not mean that your child needs antibiotics.
  • Children under 2 years of age with breathing difficulty may have bronchiolitis. This is a common condition that usually starts as a runny nose and cough but their breathing may get worse over the next 2-3 days.
  • If your child has noisy breathing, they might have croup.

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