Cough/colds (under 1's)

Coughs and colds are extremely common in young children and tend to occur more frequently over the autumn and winter months. They are usually caused by an infection and most children get better by themselves. In general, antibiotics do not make them better more quickly. If they are finding it hard to breath or are too breathless to feed, they may need to be look after in hospital.

When should you worry?

If you 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 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 (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 none of the above features are present

  • 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
  • If your child has a long term condition or disability and you are worried please contact your regular team or follow any plans that they have given you.

 

Self care

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


Treatment

Most children with coughs/colds do no require treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics rarely speed up recovery and often cause side effects such as rash and diarrhoea. They will also promote the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in your child.

3712_HT_Antibiotic_resistance_cough.jpg


  • Keep your child well hydrated by offering them lots of fluids. If your child is not feeding as normal, offer smaller feeds but more frequently.
  • Cough syrup does not tend to help with coughs
  • You can try using saline nose drops or spray if your baby has a blocked nose.

If your child has a runny nose and breathing difficulties, it is most likely that they have a condition called bronchiolitis. Most children with bronchiolitis get better by themselves with no specific treatment. Bronchiolitis is caused by a viral illness, so antibiotics are not helpful.

Symptoms of bronchiolitis:

  • Your child may have a runny nose and sometimes a temperature and a cough.
  • After a few days your child's cough may become worse and their breathing may get faster/more laboured.
  • As breathing becomes more difficult, your baby may not be able to take their usual amount of milk by breast or bottle.
  • Your child may vomit after feeding and you may notice fewer nappies than normal.

How long does bronchiolitis last?

  • Most children with bronchiolitis will seem to worsen during the first 1-3 days of the illness before beginning to improve over the next two weeks. The cough may go on for a few more weeks.
  • Your child can go back to nursery or day care as soon as he or she is well enough (that is feeding normally and with no difficulty in breathing).

Prevention

It is not always easy to avoid catching these infections. However, good hygiene practices can prevent infections spreading

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing and put it in the bin
  • Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with people who are unwell

This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

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