Winter is a common time for viruses to make their way through communities. Babies and young children are often hit the hardest. Since babies can’t blow their noses and toddlers are not all that good at it, they may need extra help to clear mucus and recover.

The TMH Medical Clinic often sees children with upper respiratory viral infections. Common infections include croup, RSV, the common cold and bugs like the enterovirus that was seen last year around this time. Common symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough, mild headache, fever early on, and feeling tired and ill.

Croup mostly affects children 6 months to 3 years old and has a telltale barking cough, hoarseness or a high-pitched squeaky noise when your child inhales. Symptoms get worse at night but it’s rarely life threatening.

Home remedies

“With most colds and the flu we recommend increasing fluids, plenty of rest, suctioning out noses of little ones, and giving acetaminophen to ease a headache or body aches. But know that many overthe-counter cold medicines are not approved for kids younger than four,” said a pediatrician with TMH Medical Clinic.

You might feel better sleeping with your child so you can monitor his or her breathing. You can also sit in a steaming shower for 10 minutes to help clear your child’s lungs. Humidifiers at night are also helpful.

“Run a humidifier or sit with your child in a steaming bathroom throughout the day. With babies, use a bulb syringe frequently along with saline drops to clear mucus. Babies younger than 6 months haven’t developed the skill to breathe through their mouths yet, so they need help,” a TMH pediatrician said.

When to call your doctor

“A telltale sign that you should bring your child in for a visit is a lasting fever. A temperature of 100.4 is considered a fever. Fevers are common during the first 72 hours of an illness, but if they last longer than that, or start after 3 to 4 days of illness, it can mean a secondary infection,” a TMH pediatrician said.

Another signal that you need to see your doctor is if your child is having trouble breathing, including an inability to suck a bottle, rapid breathing, retractions—pulling in their stomachs underneath their rib cage—and wheezing. If a bulb syringe and other methods are not alleviating symptoms, seek medical care even in the middle of the night.

Suction Clinic at TMH

The Suction Clinic at TMH is for times when your baby or young child is having trouble breathing due to excessive mucus. Respiratory therapists use a nasopharyngeal suction machine to suck out secretions and evaluate your child’s breathing. The Suction Clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The cost is $128 per visit; patients check in at the ED main desk and indicate they are there for the suction clinic.