Child care: Rhinovirus infections

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Rhinovirus infections are typically linked with the common cold. It is important to note that rhinoviruses are responsible for causing ear infections, sore throat, sinus infections and even bronchiolitis and pneumonia in rare instances.

Rhinovirus infections rapidly spread from person-to-person contact. Once a child with the rhinovirus develops runny nose, the nasal secretions can spread via the hands or through sneezing or coughing.

What are the indications?

Rhinovirus infections
Rhinovirus infections rapidly spread from person-to-person contact.

The cold might start with runny, watery nose with clear drainage. After some time, the drainage becomes thicker and often has a brownish, greenish or gray appearance. The stained drainage is normal as the child starts to get over the condition.

Other symptoms that might develop include the following:

  • Mild fever
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Diminished appetite

In some children, the pus might appear on the tonsils which is an indication of a streptococcal infection. The incubation period for rhinovirus infections is 2-3 days. The symptoms typically last for 10-14 days or less.

What should I do?

Once a child has common cold, he/she should get enough rest. Provide the child with extra fluids to drink if he/she has fever.

In case the child is uncomfortable, a doctor must be consulted first if acetaminophen can be given to reduce the fever. It is not advisable to provide over-the-counter cold remedies or cough medications without consulting a doctor first.

When to seek medical care?

If an infant is aged 3 months or younger and develops symptoms, a doctor must be consulted. The possible complications range from pneumonia to bronchiolitis which are likely to develop among young children.

As for older children, consulting a doctor is not needed if a cold is present. On the other hand, a doctor should be consulted if symptoms such as the following are present:

  • Persistent cough
  • Nails or lips turn bluish
  • Noisy or difficult breathing
  • Ear pain which indicates an infection
  • Excessive tiredness


Most cases of rhinovirus infections are mild and do not require any form of specific treatment.

Infants younger than the age of 3 months old must not be exposed to children or adults who have common cold. Always make sure that the child washes hands regularly to minimize the chances of acquiring the virus.

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