Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although it may not be possible to shorten the duration of your child's illness, you may be able to relieve some of the symptoms and make your child more comfortable. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Humidify the air. If the air in your child's room is dry, a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. Keep the room warm but not overheated — too much heat can make the air drier. Another way to humidify the air is to run a hot shower or bath in the bathroom and let it steam up the room. Sitting in the room holding your child for about 15 minutes may help ease a fit of coughing.
  • Keep your child upright. Being in an upright position usually makes breathing easier. Placing your infant in a car seat may help. If you plan to leave your child in a car seat for an extended period of time, such as for a nap, make sure your child's head won't fall forward, which can prevent proper breathing. To do this, place foam wedges or a rolled up blanket on each side of your child's head to keep it safely in place. Also check that the seat has an appropriate slope. This varies with the child's size and age.
  • Have your child drink clear fluids. To prevent dehydration, give your child plenty of clear fluids to drink, such as water, juice or gelatin water. Your child may drink more slowly than usual, due to congestion.
  • Try saline nose drops to ease congestion. You can purchase these drops over-the-counter (OTC). They're effective, safe and nonirritating, even for children. To use them, instill several drops into one nostril, then immediately bulb suction that nostril (but don't push the bulb too far in). Repeat the process in the other nostril. If your child is old enough, you might teach your child how to blow his or her nose.
  • Use OTC pain relievers. OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help relieve a sore throat and improve your child's ability to drink fluids. Don't give acetaminophen to children under 3 months of age. And never give your child aspirin. It's associated with a rare but serious illness called Reye's syndrome. OTC cold preparations aren't appropriate for bronchiolitis, either.
  • Maintain a smoke-free environment. Smoke can aggravate symptoms of respiratory infections. If a family member smokes, ask him or her to smoke outside of the house and outside of the car.
May 07, 2013