A URI, or upper respiratory infection, is an infection which can lead to a runny nose and congestion. In a young infant, the small size of the air passages through the nose and between the ear and throat can cause problems not seen as often in larger children and adults. Infants and young children average 6 to 10 upper respiratory infections each year.
A URI can be caused by many different viruses. Your child may have caught the virus from another person or got it from touching something with the virus on it.
Symptoms may include:
Your child's healthcare provider will review the symptoms and may look in your child's ears to make sure there is not an ear infection. A sample of nasal secretions may be tested.
Because your baby has such small nasal air passages, congestion and mucus can cause trouble breathing. Most babies do not eat well when they are having trouble breathing. Use a small bulb and saline drops to help clear the air passages. Put 1 drop of warm water or saline (about 1 teaspoon salt in 2 cups of water) into each nostril, one nostril at a time. Gently remove the mucus with the bulb about a minute later. Your healthcare provider can show you how this is done.
Antibiotics can kill bacteria, but not viruses. If your child has a viral illness such as a URI, an antibiotic will not help. If your child has an ear infection caused by bacteria, your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic to treat it.
A humidifier in your child's room may help. (The humidifier must be cleaned every 2 to 3 days.)
Do not give a child under age 6 any cough and cold medicines unless specifically instructed to do so by your healthcare provider. These medicines may be dangerous in young children. Never give honey to babies. Honey may cause a serious disease called botulism in children less than 1 year old.
Symptoms usually begin 1 to 3 days after exposure to the virus, and can last 1 to 2 weeks.
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