What does a young child's yellow runny nose indicate? Does he need an antibiotic?

 A baby's thick, yellow, runny nose may be an infection caused by bacteria. However, a viral infection is frequently to blame for a child's runny nose. Home remedies for thinning secretions, nasal irrigation, and occasionally paediatric rhinitis medicines are included in the treatment.

Runny Nose

Causes of a child's runny nose

The great majority of illnesses in children that cause a runny nose are viral. The commonest culprit is a cold. Rarely does bacteria cause a runny nose. A runny nose typically goes away on its own in 7–10 days, but because of the shift in its characteristics and the inconvenience it causes a child, parents frequently become concerned and seek expert assistance.

Other causes than a cold in a child include: 

  • flu - a slight runny nose, cough is a more characteristic symptom,

  • angina - with angina, there is primarily a sore throat ,

  • allergy - runny nose is usually clear and watery, prolongs, coincides with e.g. plant dusting or contact with animals, there are no symptoms of infection such as fever,

  • teething - runny nose is usually watery and prolonged,

  • sinusitis - runny nose is troublesome and generally smells bad,

  • fungal infection - rare.

What does a child's yellow runny nose mean?

A child's runny nose, and more especially the nasal discharge, may be of a distinct colour, which will alter as the illness progresses.

A child's yellow runny nose typically appears 3–4 days after illness. Additionally, it thickens and produces more mucus than previously. There is no need to be alarmed if you have a yellow runny nose. The progression of the infection and the child's recovery are indicated by changes in the consistency and colour of a runny nose.

 Because there are more white blood cells, an immune cell type, present in the discharge, the baby's runny nose looks yellow. To combat infection in the airways, the immune system summons "meals." A runny nose turns yellow or greenish due to the presence of white blood cells. A runny nose is less contagious than a yellow one.

 When is a child's yellow runny nose cause for concern?

Please notify the doctor if your child develops a yellow runny nose and his health does not improve after a few days or gets worse. Alarming symptoms include recurring headaches, halitosis, and shortness of breath. This might indicate a sinus infection, in which case you'll need to take an antibiotic. Over 10 days of illness may also be indicative of a bacterial infection, though it should be noted that a child with a cold may experience a runny nose for up to 14 days.

Yellow nasal congestion and sinusitis

Acute or chronic sinusitis is frequently accompanied by a yellow, purulent runny nose (thus referred to as sinusitis). A bacterial infection is the root reason. Additionally, we can identify this illness by the thick secretion that comes from the nose and goes down the back of the throat, irritating it and causing us to cough.

How to heal a yellow runny nose in a child?

The child's yellow runny nose needs to be treated right away because untreated cases can lead to bronchitis or middle ear inflammation.

Additionally bothersome is thick nasal discharge, especially in infants and young children who are unable to blow it out on their own. It impairs breathing, interferes with sleep, and suppresses appetite.


A thick runny nose can be thinned to reduce symptoms:

  • giving your child regular drinking, preferably warm raspberry, rosehip or elderberry tea,

  • moisturizing the air,

  • using inhalations,

  • rinsing the nose with sea water or saline. 


With a nasal aspirator, the yellow secretion should be eliminated in young children (but not too often, so as not to irritate the mucosa). Prior to that, the secretion needs to be diluted with a saline- or seawater-based nasal spray. Compresses and other natural remedies for runny nose are also effective.

 Using nasal decongestants, such as those containing oxymetazoline, can help the baby with his or her yellow runny nose. They must, however, not be used for longer than 5-7 days.

 Is an antibiotic required for a child's yellow runny nose?

This question's answer is ambiguous. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial illnesses only, not viral ones. A yellow runny nose, however, might have a variety of causes. As a result, a doctor must always decide whether to give this kind of medication. Generally speaking, if your kid develops a yellow runny nose, there is no need to take an antibiotic.


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