Key Messages:

  • Coughing is the body’s natural way of clearing infections.
  • Unfortunately, coughs and colds can continue for weeks before they get better. In addition, 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!
  • Most of these are likely to be caused by a virus, which means that antibiotics are of no benefit and may actually result in side effects such as rash, vomiting or a runny tummy. It may also mean that they might work less well the next time your child needs antibiotics (antibiotic resistance).
  • Having green snot, a wheeze or a noisy chest does not mean that your child has an infection requiring antibiotics.

What should you do?

  • To make your child more comfortable, you may want to give them paracetamol (calpol) and/or ibuprofen. Read the instructions on the bottle.

  • Babies may not feed as well as normal – try smaller feeds but more frequently.

  • Babies are often more unsettled when they have a cough/cold, especially at night. You could try saline drops for comfort.

If your child has any of the following:

  • Has blue lips
  • Is unresponsive or extremely drowsy
  • Has pauses in their breathing (apnoeas) l Has an irregular breathing pattern
  • Is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 38°C / 100.4°F or above (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)

You need urgent help.

You need urgent help go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following:

  • Has decreased feeding (less than half of normal feeds)
  • Is passing significantly less urine than normal
  • Is not keeping down fluids
  • Is 3-6 months of age with a temperature above 39°C / 102.2°F (but fever is common in babies up to 2 days after they receive vaccinations)
  • Has breathing that is becoming more laboured l Seems to be getting worse or if you are worried

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today. Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111

If none of the features in the red or amber boxes above are present.

Self care

Self Care - You can look after your child at home

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

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