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Comforting a Child Who Has a Respiratory Illness

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Here are some ways you can help comfort your child who has a respiratory illness (such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection or a cold):

  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve fever (if present). Follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
  • Prevent dehydration. Encourage your child to drink extra fluids or suck on flavored ice pops, such as Popsicles. Let your baby breast-feed more often or give your baby extra bottles. Liquids may help thin the mucus and also reduce fever (if present). But don't force your child to take fluids, which may cause your child to vomit.
  • Let your child rest. Unless you see signs of dehydration, do not awaken your child during naps or at night to take fluids.
  • Keep your child away from smoke and fumes. This includes cigarette smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves, and fumes from gas, oil, or kerosene heaters. These irritate the breathing tubes and slow healing.
  • Keep your child in an upright position. Place your baby in a car seat or infant seat. This may make it easier for the child to breathe and sleep. Place extra pillows under the upper half of an older child's body, or raise the head of the bed by putting wood blocks under the bed frame.
  • Use saline nose drops and an aspirating bulb to clear your child's nose. You may need to suction your child's nose if he or she is unable to breathe well enough to eat or sleep.
  • If your child is having trouble breathing or if symptoms are getting worse, contact a doctor.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised June 25, 2012

Last Revised: June 25, 2012

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