Why does it take so long for your baby to recover from runny nose and cough?
It’s always upsetting when your child is unwell, says Dr Natalie Epton, a specialist paediatrician and neonatologist. Studies show that babies have, on average, 12 infections a year for the first two years of life, and the majority involve the upper respiratory tract.
The good news is that most of these infections are viral and can be managed with simple interventions: paracetamol or ibuprofen for fever, and Vicks Babyrub or Karvol or similar for blocked nose and irritative cough.
These viral infections last for an average of seven to 10 days. But it’s not uncommon for post-viral inflammation to cause prolonged cough – long after the actual virus is gone (up to six to eight weeks in some cases).
Sometimes, a virus can temporarily weaken the body’s immune system, and your baby can pick up a second virus almost immediately after the first.
This is very common among babies in their first year, especially if they are in childcare or have elder siblings bringing coughs and colds home with them.
Although upsetting, this is nothing to worry about. Continue to manage his symptoms as you would for the first illness.
You should see a doctor if your baby has high or persistent fever (more than 38 deg C for more than three days, or more than 39 deg C); is drowsy, irritable or lethargic; is not drinking well enough to produce at least four to five wet diapers per day; or if you’re simply concerned.