My daughter has had green and yellow gunk in her nose lately. Should I call the doctor?
It used to be pretty common to call the doctor when the goop from the nose turned yellow or green. In fact, many folks I know still recommend that. But now we know that most respiratory infections will clear on their own and that a few days of yellow or green goop can be a normal part of that. The colored mucus is dead white blood cells that were engaged in fighting the infection. Most kids with green goopies will get better on their own soon.
Respiratory infections last five to seven days on average. When one lasts 10 to 14 days, it can be a good time to call the doctor to be sure it hasn't turned into something else (like a sinus infection or ear infection). Also, call the doctor if there is a fever lasting longer than 72 hours with respiratory symptoms, or sooner if there is a high fever (kids with a fever of 105 should be seen right away, unless the fever comes down easily and the child is happy). The other time to call the doctor is when there's any breathing difficulty, such as breathing too fast (say over 40 times per minute) or working too hard to breathe -- nostrils flaring or the muscles between the ribs pulling in.
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