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My child has a cold -- should we postpone our plane trip?

Lane France pediatrician

That depends partially on the severity of the cold and the flexibility of your travel plans. Young children are usually just fine when flying with a cold, so in most cases you'll be able to go ahead with your trip. One major exception, however, is when the cold is complicated by a serious ear infection. In that case, you should check with your child's doctor to make sure it's safe to fly. You may need to postpone flying until the antibiotics take effect, usually in one or two days, or until your child feels better.

Meanwhile, you can do several things to help make your child more comfortable during the flight. If she is severely congested, give her a baby antihistamine or mild decongestant an hour before departure. You can also give her saline nose drops just before takeoff. Tilt her head back and put a drop or two of saline in each nostril. Let the drops sit for a minute or so. Then use the suction bulb (also called a suction syringe or nasal aspirator) to unplug her nose. Don't worry if a little saline goes down her throat — it's perfectly fine. You can use the drops every two hours until landing.

Make sure your child stays hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. The sucking and swallowing of breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or drinking from a sippy cup can also lessen ear pain by relieving pressure on the inner ear, especially during takeoff and landing.

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