5 things you need to know when your child is sneezing

Once that streak of hot and humid weather has left us and oh, so (un)conveniently, just when the kids are starting their school year, the rainy season is when children have episodes of sneezing and coughing. What do you need to know if this happens?

  1. You don’t always need to give antibiotics.

The common cold is caused by viruses. Which means they will go away on its own even if you don’t give antibiotics. The child might have cough or fever along with the cold and being the loving guardian that you are, it is normal to act on the symptoms right away. But hold on to those medicine just yet and observe for a day or two. Some people usually just give the antibiotics that was given during the last illness. Yikes, please don’t do that! If you do, there’s a huge possibility that your child will develop resistance to the antibiotic if it’s used inappropriately. How will you know when to give antibiotics? Visit your pediatrician. Antibiotics are not over the counter medications so a doctor’s prescription is necessary.

  1. Want to save up on money? Vaccinate your child.

You might think I’m crazy giving this advice because you actually have to spend money when you vaccinate your children. Yes, you spend on this initially but the amount that you will be spending if the more serious viruses and bacteria harm your child will be a lot more expensive than a few doses of vaccines. Imagine spending on medicines, doctors’ fees, hospital bills versus preventing the child to be sick in the first place. Are his/her friends from school vaccinated too?  If more children are vaccinated, there will be less chances that your child will get sick too. And does vaccination cause autism? OF COURSE NOT.

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Photo by Dr. Pristine Bernardo
  1. It is NOT caused by eating ice cream or taking a bath at night.

In the Philippines, we have a lot of these pamahiin or supersition passed on from generations to generations. But simply put, your typical respiratory infections are transmitted by inhaling these viruses/bacteria which are suspended particles in the air or by directly touching someone’s infected secretions. So no need to deprive the child from taking a bath at night or from eating that cookies and cream flavored ice cream. Just make sure that everyone in the house always wash their hands and keep themselves hydrated by drinking water.

  1. Use your senses to observe for problems

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You already went to your pediatrician and medicine has already been prescribed but it has been a few days and there seems to be no improvement. What to do? Observe for these warning signs by using your senses.

    • LOOK for signs that the child is having difficulty breathing. Nostrils flaring? Skin turning pale or bluish? Breathing faster and lower chest indrawing?
    • LISTEN for high pitched sounds (wheezing) when the child is breathing, cough that sounds like a dog’s bark, or persistent coughing then there’s a “whoop” sound in the end
  • FEEL body temperature and then check for it using a thermometer. Fever is 38 Celsius and above. Go to your pediatrician if there is still fever for more than 3 days (even if he’s already on antibiotics).

Any of these are observed from the child, visit your pediatrician or the nearest hospital.

  1. Something else might be the culprit…

Does the child experience any of these:

  • sneezing in bouts and mostly in morning
  • sneezing when there’s a change in weather or when there are specific triggers
  • has a history of asthma or any allergy to food or medicine
  • either parents have history of asthma or allergy

…Infection might not be the cause of your child’s sneezing. It might be a symptom of allergic rhinitis1. Also called hay fever, it happens when you breathe in something to which you are allergic, and the inside of your nose becomes inflamed and swollen. Allergic Rhinitis is triggered by allergens which can be found outside or inside your home. Some example of allergens are house dust mites, animal dander, and pollen.


1World Health Organization (WHO). 2017. Chronic respiratory diseases. Retrieved from World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/respiratory/other/Rhinitis_sinusitis/en/

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