What to do if my baby has a cold?


While an adult on average two to three times in one year sniff suffers, toddlers are not mature due to the immune system affected about twelve times a year. The runny nose then usually occurs. as part of a simple cold which, as with adults, is almost exclusively from virus is caused.

In this respect, colds are more common in children. not critical, rather the immune system is further strengthened by every contact with viruses, it learns so to speak.
But also allergies can be the trigger for persistent or recurring runny nose symptoms. In addition, there are other, rarer causes.

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Most common cause for sniff in children – as in adults – infection with a virus that is transmitted by droplet or smear infection and also has an easier time with the immature immune system. In principle, the same pathogens are considered as for adults, of which more than 200 different types are known.

Next to the rhinovirus the most common triggers include. Respiratory syncytial-, Human metapneumo-, corona-, parainfluenza– and adenoviruses, in summer especially. Coxsackie-, entero– and echo virus to be responsible. There are some special features. in severity and frequency distribution; For example, children get the human metapneumovirus much more often and an infection with the respiratory syncytial virus usually has them. a more difficult course.

To the Influenza virus, the pathogen of the "real" flu, is also to think what usually leads to a significantly more severe course and can endanger babies under the age of one in particular. Even teething problems such as. measles, chickenpox, Scarlet fever (bacterial) or whooping cough (bacterial) can cause a runny nose, but these usually focus on other symptoms. Otherwise you can bacteria how Staph-, Strepto– or pneumococcal Runny nose as part of a so-called. bacterial superinfection cause or exacerbate if a viral infection has already damaged the nasal mucosa and weakened the immune system. Generally beneficial for an infection include a nasal mucosa that is attacked by dry indoor air or poorly supplied with blood due to hypothermia, but also underlying diseases (e.g.. Cystic Fibrosis) or narrowed nasal cavities (due to adenoids or one crooked nasal septum) out.

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Special cases pose e.g. bacterial infectious disease diphtheria, leading to a bloody-liquid runny nose (Pseudomembranacea rhinitis), or the innate syphilis which can lead to a bloody, purulent runny nose. Chronic runny nose in children, however, is mostly allergic. On the one hand, a wide variety of grass and flower pollen can play a role, which then turns out to be seasonal hay fever noticeable. On the other hand, an allergic runny nose can exist all year round if allergens such as Animal hair or dust mites are the trigger. It is also possible that such a runny nose occurs without a proven cause.

In this context one speaks of one vasomotor runny nose, which is apparently based on an incorrect regulation of blood vessels; V. A. Irritants such as Detergents or perfumes can cause or exacerbate this problem in young children. Other causes like one Rhinitis hypertrophica, in which an increase in volume of the lower and middle turbinates leads to discomfort or one Atrophic rhinitis (Ozaena), which favors germ settlements due to the loss of tissue in the nasal mucosa, are conceivable, but significantly less common.

In addition, especially in small children, it should be borne in mind that imported foreign bodies (e.g. a marble) can also be responsible, which then cause one-sided, purulent runny nose. For non-healing colds in winter, an enlarged throat tonsil is another possible cause. Breast-fed breast milk that has got into the nasal passages can also cause cold-like symptoms or an "runny nose" in infants.


The symptoms of the runny nose can vary slightly depending on the cause, but typically the leading symptom is always an increased secretion production of the nose, which leads to a "runny" or blocked nose. The classic cold sore usually begins. with a burning or tickling nose and an increased urge to sneeze. In the days that followed, this became more and more a so-called. runny nose about where v.a. an aqueous, often colorless secretion is released from the nasal mucosa. The face skin in the immediate vicinity of the nose, especially the tip of the nose and upper lip, can be affected so much by frequent blowing and constant contact with the secretion that it becomes red and rough.

In addition, there are often watery eyes, limited sense of smell and taste as well as a general feeling of illness. As the secretion thickens as it progresses (and may also turn yellowish to green in the process) and the mucous membranes swell, the nose becomes increasingly clogged and breathing becomes more difficult. If additional bacteria settle on the previously damaged mucous membrane as part of a bacterial superinfection, this shows up yellow-green purulent secretion. Of course, the runny nose can also from all other typical cold symptoms, such as. fever, to cough, fatigue, neck-, head- and body aches are accompanied.

In addition, complications are like Sinuses- or Ear infections possible, which are often caused or favored by a secretion jam. The symptoms usually sound within seven to ten days, but small children in particular can suffer from a runny nose, which can also prevent them from sleeping.

When babies get a cold, the main problem is usually breathing difficulties, since babies breathe almost exclusively through the nose. However, this is quickly blocked due to the still narrow nasal cavities and a possible consequence is that the baby completely refuses to drink. Allergic or vasomotor runny nose is characterized by sudden, seizure-like occurrence with sneezing attacks, production of watery nasal secretions and itching, especially in the nose and eyes, from.

This can also be caused by redness of the conjunctiva to make noticable. Foreign bodies inserted into the nose can cause one-sided, purulent runny nose, which can also be accompanied by odors. Likewise, a Ozaena (so-called. "Stinknase“) Responsible for unpleasant smells (and a dry nose). Blood admixtures are often the result of severe irritation to the mucous membrane, but can also appear as a specific symptom in the context of certain infectious diseases, such as diphtheria or congenital syphilis.

Glued eye / pus in the eye

Purulent or sticky eyes do not automatically go along with a runny nose or a cold. Even so, bacterial or viral infections can Conjunctivitis to be triggered. Triggered by bacteria, the eye secretes purulent secretions and is colored yellow. If the eye is infected by viruses that cause conjunctivitis, the eye secretes a colorless secretion.

In the case of viral conjunctivitis, the conjunctivitis should heal itself within a week. An antibacterial ointment may be necessary for bacterial infections. Basically, purulent eyes should be looked at by an ophthalmologist.

Read more on the topic: Conjunctivitis

Runny nose and mucus

Mucus is caused by hypersecretion of the nasal glands, which sit in the mucous membrane and keep the nose permanently moist. If a virus secretes excessively, it can "clog" the nose.

With viral infections, the secretion is watery and clear, after a while it can become cloudy. If bacteria settle on the viral infection, a so-called super infection occurs and the secretion turns yellow. Rarely, colds / colds are caused by bacteria. The mucus should be suctioned off when the airway is blocked.


The diagnosis of a runny nose is usually made. purely clinical, i.e. based on the symptoms described by the child and the physical examination. If children are too young or too taciturn to describe their symptoms, it is particularly important to look closely at the child in order to identify possible causes such as a foreign body in the nose. If the runny nose does not come from a simple cold, is particularly severe or long-lasting, various differential diagnoses should be considered, which is why a further clarification is useful.

For this purpose, certain pathogens can be detected in laboratory chemical processes, which e.g. viruses that trigger the influenza virus (causative agent of the "real" flu) or childhood diseases, e.g. the measles virus can be applied. Especially with chronic runny nose, a allergy test be purposeful. For this, the usual skin test (so-called. Prick test) usually preferred a blood test, during which specific IgE antibodies can be demonstrated (so-called. Radio Allergo sorbent test).

Therapy – what to do?

Depending on the cause of the runny nose, different treatment approaches can be useful. It is important to note that not all agents that are used for adults are also suitable for small children. The classic cold can not targeted fought with medication, but treated symptomatically at best. He can usually can be cured at home without further complications. General measures such as e.g. physical protection, enough sleep and adequate room temperatures. The use of various home remedies, for example drinking chamomile or elderflower tea or inhaling, among other things. Camomile tea, act supportive.

However, toddlers should not inhale essential oils as this can cause shortness of breath. Certain too homeopathic remedies or Natural Remedies can alleviate symptoms and possibly have a positive effect on the course of the disease. In the case of more persistent cases or more severe accompanying symptoms (e.g. fever), other medications can also be useful. Since toddlers can particularly suffer from symptoms such as a stuffy nose, the use of decongestants can also be given nasal sprays be helpful to improve your wellbeing in the short term. However, these should only be used for a few days, otherwise there will be a habituation effect that will continue to lead to a stuffy nose after stopping the spray.

Gentle, but still helpful – and therefore recommended for people who don’t have too much cold – are simple Salt water sprays. In the case of a sore nose, the use of i.a.. dexpanthenolhaltigen Ointments or sprays possible. antibiotics are only effective against bacteria and should therefore only be considered if there is a bacterial infection. Slight allergic or vasomotor rhinitis can also be treated with general measures, home remedies and homeopathic drugs if necessary. It is particularly important here to find the allergen or the trigger and to protect the child from contact with it. In more severe cases, the use of special anti-allergic agents may be necessary (e.g.. cortisone or antihistamines), from the age of five, specific immunotherapy may be possible and useful.

Nasal drops to treat runny nose

If the nasal mucous membranes are swollen and block the airway, this can be particularly uncomfortable for babies because they are up breathe exclusively through the nose for the 6th month. In order to reduce swelling of the mucous membranes and to facilitate secretion drainage, nasal drops (or nasal sprays) with the active ingredient xylometazoline are given. However, this must always be clarified in advance with the treating doctor.

Depending on the month of life, the active substance content should not exceed 0.25mg or 0.5mg / ml contain. This corresponds to a solution of 0.025% or 0.05%. Treatment with 0.9% sodium chloride solution can also help. In principle, nose drops (unless otherwise prescribed by the doctor) should not be given for longer than 7 days to prevent the mucous membranes from drying out.


Sambucus nigra (black elder), Euphrasia (eyebright), Nux vomica (crow’s eye) can be given.

If the secretion is yellowish / purulent, hepar sulfuris (lime sulfur liver) and potassium bichromicum are said to provide relief.

If there are additional cold symptoms, Aconitum napellus (blue aconite) can be administered. The dosage depends on the ingredient and the month of the baby’s life.

Always consult the doctor in charge beforehand!

home remedies

Home remedies, under the heading medicine / naturopathic treatments / phytopharmaceuticals are understood to be teas, inhalants and baths, which are of vegetable origin. In principle, with these ingredients (also) purchased in supermarkets and drugstores, the amount administered must be adapted to the child’s organism. Information relates to empirical values ​​and is usually neither scientifically nor supported by studies. As a general, not evidence-based rule, children between the 1st and 4th A fifth to a half of the adult dose. In the case of acute runny nose, small children from the age of 12 months should only be treated with home remedies.

With acute runny nose as part of a cold, drinking from Schlüsselblumenblütentee and Primelwurzeltee liquefy the nasal secretions faster and thereby drain better. Inhaling essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus and mint can disinfect the mucous membranes and have an antimicrobial effect.

The onion for the treatment of runny nose

There is no evidence that the onion extract helps with colds. According to reports, shredded onions wrapped in a cloth can be placed near the baby and inhaling the exhaling substances can lead to a freer nose. If a middle ear is inflamed as part of a cold, an onion sachet can be placed on the affected ear. By boiling a finely chopped onion in a sachet for two minutes and allowing it to cool. It can then be fixed to the ear as an ear wrap.

Read more on the topic: Otitis

Breast milk for the prevention of colds

Breast milk is once again considered the best food source for an infant.

It has a low protein and mineral content (compared to cow’s milk). Most of the proteins are made up of casein and alpha-lactalbumin. Milk sugar is the determining carbohydrate in breast milk and provides 40% of the energy it contains. Another 40% of the energy comes from the fat in breast milk. Other sugar compounds support defense mechanisms in the intestine. Breast milk contains important antibodies, such as immunoglobulin A and white blood cells, which protect the child from infections. The antibodies it contains can help with a cold by dripping a few drops of breast milk into the baby’s nostrils

How long does the runny nose last??

If you have a cold, you have to distinguish whether it is a cold acute or chronic recurring runny nose. The duration can vary depending on the findings. With an acute infection of the nasal mucous membranes, usually as part of a cold, the runny nose occurs after 2-8 days after infection. After 3 days to a week the runny nose should go away, with others the associated symptoms spontaneously improved and disappeared after 2 weeks.

If the inflammation of the nasal mucosa extends to the paranasal sinuses and the resulting mucus can no longer drain off, a runny nose can persist for a week or months and then usually does not heal spontaneously. The situation is similar with runny nose of another cause, like that allergic runny nose or a runny nose caused by irritating substances. If a runny nose is induced by taking medication, it should go away after stopping the medication.

When should the baby’s secretion be sucked out??

If the baby’s breathing is prevented to such an extent that it can no longer breathe through the nose, it will try to balance its oxygen requirement by crying. Because babies up to the 6th month of life can only breathe through the nose. Decongestant nasal drops do not help and the nose still remains blocked or produces so much mucus that breathing is no longer possible nose sucker annoying mucus are removed from the nose. Both manual and electric suction cups can be used. It is important that these are germ-free (preferably rinse with water again) and that they have no sharp edges that could injure the sensitive mucous membrane.


In most cases, runny nose is a harmless symptom in the context of a simple one cold and subsides after a few days without any consequential damage. However, it can also arise in connection with various other diseases, which in turn can lead to more severe disease courses and require further treatment.


The most effective way to prevent runny nose, which is based on a viral or bacterial infection, is by contact with the relevant pathogens (through hygienic measures) and, above all, is avoided with already sick people. This should explain to the children how they can protect themselves from infection (e.g. do not share drinking bottles with other children). However, since a certain degree of colds is also very important for the healthy development of the immune system, children should not be shielded to an excessive extent from possible pathogen contact. It is more important to keep away from serious infectious diseases, such as the flu or various childhood diseases, for the most part against vaccines available.

While against the flu in healthy children usually is not vaccinated against some typical childhood diseases, such as. measles, rubella or whooping cough, Vaccinations recommended. In addition, a short-term, so-called. passive immunization against that Respiratory syncytial virus possible, but this is only possible for particularly vulnerable babies (e.g. those with a congenital cardiac defect) is applied. A vaccination against the numerous classic cold viruses or against colds in general. can not. Apart from that, general measures are of course useful to strengthen the immune system or keep it healthy, including a balanced nutrition, enough sleep, little stress and also outdoor exercise. For the prophylaxis of allergic rhinitis, small children should avoid harmful environmental stimuli (e.g. heavy dust pollution), long breastfeeding and the early introduction of varied complementary foods can reduce the risk of developing an allergy.

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Christina Cherry
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