Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)


  • Saline drops (Ayr, Na-Sal, Ocean Spray, etc) are helpful to break up mucus. Squirt it up each nostril and rock head gently to break up mucus; suction afterward with aspirator if age-appropriate. Use as often as needed to clear nasal passages. Homemade saline: ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt and 1 cup boiled water. Let cool and store in a sterilized jar.
  • Saline flushes or NETI pots will help prevent sinus infections and green goopy noses.
  • Cold medications provide relief of cold symptoms only, allowing children to eat and sleep better. They do not “cure” a cold and are not recommended for infants. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used to help ease discomfort, scratchy throat, headache, and low-grade fever that may appear in the early stages of an upper respiratory infection.

Coughing from a cold may persist for 1 to 2 weeks. Mucus may turn green at the end of a cold, signifying congestion is near the end. Use saline to provide relief.

  • Don’t worry about lack of appetite. Push liquids, popsicles, or high fluid-content foods (applesauce, baby food). Milk is okay; follow it with clear liquids.
  • Cool mist humidifiers, placed near the bed while child sleeps, will help younger children (avoid if child has mold allergies). Steamy showers will help break up mucus.
  • Adjust the head of the mattress, sleep on an extra pillow, or allow infants to nap in their carriers.
  • Continue all asthma medications during illness.

To ease a croupy cough or help a coughing fit:

  • Repeat medications if timing is appropriate.
  • Give cool clear liquids.
  • Older children may sleep on their bellies (cough trigger spot is at the back of the throat).
  • Cool moist air (open the back door but keep child warm) or steamy bathroom.

Call the doctor if any of the following develop:

  • Significant discomfort such as ear pain or sore throat.
  • Difficulty breathing (belly seesawing up and down, ribs showing with eeach brath), deep repetitive chesty cough.
  • Onset of fever after several days of cold symptoms.
  • Creamy yellow mucus, mattered eyes, or persistent daytime and nighttime cough that develops after one week of a cold.