Nasal sprays are not recommended for children under age 2. Don't use over-the-counter nasal sprays more often than 3 days on and 3 days off, unless told to by your provider.
You can buy cough and cold medicines without a prescription. They do not seem to be effective in children.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call the provider if your child has any of the following:
A stuffy nose with swelling of the forehead, eyes, side of the nose, or cheek, or that occurs with blurred vision
More throat pain, or white or yellow spots on the tonsils or other parts of the throat
Discharge from the nose that has a bad smell, comes from only one side, or is a color other than white or yellow
Cough that lasts longer than 10 days, or produces yellow-green or gray mucus
Symptoms that last more than 3 weeks
Nasal discharge with fever
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your child's provider may perform a physical exam that focuses on the ears, nose, throat, and airways.
Tests that may be done include:
Allergy tests skin and blood tests
Blood tests (such as CBC or blood differential)
Sputum culture and throat culture
X-rays of the sinuses and chest x-ray
CT scan of the head
McGann KA, Long SS. Respiratory tract symptom complexes. In: Long SS, Prober CG, Fischer M, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 21.
Milgrom H, Sicherer SH. Allergic rhinitis. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 143.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.