Everything you need to know about Snot

Pediatricians Tanya Altmann and Sonya Sethi Gohill explain everything you need to know about your child’s snot, from runny noses to varying booger colors
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Everything you need to know about Snot

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- Some children have runny noses all winter long it seems, and that's because they catch a virus from friends at school, the runny nose lingers for a week or two, it goes away, and the next day, they get sick again. And it can seem to go on and on and on. And so parents often ask me, is this normal? When do I need to worry about the runny nose? Well, most clear runny nose are just part of a virus, and if you give it time, it'll go away on its own. It's important to note that some viral infections will even start off green, so green runny noses does not mean you need an antibiotic, and it does not mean that there's a bacterial infection. Now, if your child has a runny nose that lasts for weeks and weeks, and they start complaining of head pain, they're uncomfortable, they're having ear pain, fever, then that's something that needs to be checked out, because sometimes they can get a secondary infection, such as an ear infection or a sinus infection. But in general, a clear runny nose is nothing that you need to worry about. So what can you do to help relieve your child's symptoms? Well, nasal saline sprays work great, even for babies. You can put a drop or two in each nostril, and if they'll let you, gently suction the snot out. Also, steam up your bathroom, take them in there to play for about 20 minutes, and that'll help relieve some of the congestion and mucus. I like running a cool mist humidifier in the room at night while they're sleeping, because that also helps moisten the mucus in their nose, so it can drain on its own.

- There's a lot of confusion about the meaning of different colored boogers. I can't tell you how often patients come into my office, because they've been sent home from school, because they have green or yellow boogers. People have all sorts of different ideas about the importance of the color. Some people think that if their child has green or yellow boogers, it means that their child is sicker than another child with clear boogers. This is not true. Some people think that if their child has green or yellow boogers, it means that they're more contagious than someone with clear boogers. Also not true. Other people think that if their child has green or yellow boogers, it means that they have a bacterial infection, and need antibiotics. This also is not true. If your child has a cold, your child will likely have symptoms that will last for two weeks. In this period, they will often times have all different color boogers. They will have clear congestion at the beginning, it may turn to yellow or green halfway through, it may go back to clear again towards the end of it. They may have every different color of congestion, and this is completely completely normal. The good news is that colds are caused by viruses, and will often times go away with no treatment at all. We worry about a bacterial illness if your child has persistent fever, if your child has fever that is there, disappears, and then comes back again, if your child has congestion that's lasted for longer than two weeks, if your child has sinus pain, or if your child really looks sick. These would be reasons to take your child to his or her doctor.

BABY, Baby Health, Fever and Viruses

Pediatricians Tanya Altmann and Sonya Sethi Gohill explain everything you need to know about your child’s snot, from runny noses to varying booger colors

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