My Child Has a Runny Nose, Should We Visit Urgent Care for Children?

Mucus, the word alone causes many parents to cringe. With the change in seasons, runny noses present a frustrating concern. Yet, mucus is not always a sign of lingering illness and missed school or daycare to come. Mucus keeps germs, dirt, pollen, and bacteria from entering your child’s lungs by keeping it in the nostrils. Some fluid running from your child’s nose is normal, but there are several things you should keep in mind when observing your child’s runny nose. Namely, color, frequency, and accompanying symptoms.

Check the Color

Clear mucus is a sign that your child’s body is doing the important job of trapping and removing foreign particles. Clear drainage could indicate that your child has contracted the common cold. Colds are a viral infection that will generally pass in about a week. Because colds are not bacterial infections, antibiotics are not prescribed for the treatment of colds; the symptoms of a common cold will generally clear up on their own. If the drainage is yellow or green, your child could be fighting a bacterial infection like sinusitis or the flu. If the mucus is thick and cloudy or discolored, and your child’s nostrils are blocked, then you should visit a pediatric provider. A trained medical professional will be able to diagnose your child’s symptoms and decide whether antibiotic treatment is needed.  

Observe the Frequency

A little drainage from the nose is to be expected from time to time. However, if your child must blow their nose several times an hour or they are so congested that they can’t participate in activities, then the nose isn’t draining properly. Improper nasal drainage can cause a buildup of bacteria and lead to infection.

Be Aware of the Symptoms

The common cold typically causes congestion in both nostrils and can cause coughing and mild fevers. Again, these symptoms are mild and will usually resolve themselves within a week, in some instances cold medicine may be recommended. If your child’s runny nose lasts longer than a week and does not present with a fever, allergies could be the culprit. Food or something environmental could trigger an allergic reaction and a runny nose could eventually become blocked and cause a sinus infection.

A pediatric provider will be able to determine if antihistamines should be administered for treatment. If your child’s runny nose lasts longer than a week and is accompanied by discolored mucus, high fevers, and nasal blockage in both nostrils, a visit to a health care provider is best. Antibiotics will likely need to be prescribed to clear up a bacterial infection. If only one nostril is clogged the problem could be rather simple. Having one clogged nostril signals that your little one may have inserted something in their nose. A medical professional will be able to investigate and safely remove the object if necessary. 

In-Home Treatment

Though a runny nose is not always cause for alarm, we know easing your child’s discomfort is of great importance. These simple and effective tips compiled by the Centers for Disease Control can bring your little one some much-needed relief this season:

•        Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.

•        Use saline nasal spray or drops.

•        For young children, use a rubber suction bulb to clear mucus.

•        Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower.

•        Make sure they rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Whether your kiddo is in need of a foreign body removal from their nose or you’re looking for reassurance that your child’s mucus is nothing more, Urgent Care for Children is here to help. Our team of pediatric professionals is ready to serve your family all 365 days of the year. Click here to find a UC4C location nearest you.