Rhinitis and rhinopharyngitis (common cold)

Rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucosa) and rhinopharyngitis (inflammation of the nasal and pharyngeal mucosa) are generally benign, self-limited and most often of viral origin. However, they may be an early sign of another infection (e.g. measles or influenza) or may be complicated by a bacterial infection (e.g. otitis media or sinusitis).

Clinical features

– Nasal discharge or obstruction, which may be accompanied by sore throat, fever, cough, lacrimation, and diarrhoea in infants. Purulent nasal discharge is not indicative of a secondary bacterial infection.
– In children under 5 years, routinely check the tympanic membranes to look for an associated otitis media.


– Antibiotherapy is not recommended: it does not promote recovery nor prevent complications.

– Treatment is symptomatic:
• Clear the nose with 0.9% sodium chloride1 .
• Fever, throat soreness: paracetamol PO for 2 to 3 days (Fever, Chapter 1).

Ref Notes
1 For a child: place him on his back, head turned to the side, and instil 0.9% sodium chloride into each nostril.