One of the most common complaints parents report is their child’s blocked nose. While occasionally, a blocked nose may be due to an allergy, more often, it’s either caused by a cold or sinusitis.
We all know it’s nothing to worry about when our kids catch a cold. But the symptoms of a common cold — especially a blocked nose — can be very uncomfortable for kids, especially if they are very young.
Your child’s blocked nose may cause difficulty breathing due to the congestion. This results in sleepless nights for both parents and baby.
Of course, the loss of appetite and general grumpiness caused by your child feeling uncomfortable because of the blocked nose.
What Causes a Child’s Blocked Nose
A blocked nose is caused by inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses due to a cold, allergy or sinus infection. When inflammation occurs, mucous secretion increases to help fight infection, resulting in a blocked nose.
A variety of factors can cause a blocked nose. Here are some common causes:
Allergies are one of the most common causes of blocked noses in children. They appear when a person’s body reacts to something they’re allergic to (like pollen or pet dander), which causes inflammation and swelling inside the body. The result is a stuffy nose, usually accompanied by sneezing and itchy eyes.
Bacteria and viruses are responsible for many childhood infections that cause blocked noses. These include colds and flu and more serious illnesses like pneumonia, whooping cough, and strep throat (also known as tonsillitis). In these cases, your child may have a runny nose and other symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, or sore throat.
When your child’s nose gets blocked, it’s usually because of an irritant that has made its way into the nasal cavity. Irritants are dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, and other forms of pollution.
These irritants can cause a reaction in the body that leads to inflammation (swelling). This swelling can block the small tubes in your child’s nose that help drain mucus out of their body. So when your child’s nose gets blocked, it’s because there is too much mucus.
If your child breaks a blood vessel in his nose and it starts to bleed, it can get stuck in the nasal passages and block them up. This often happens in babies who haven’t yet learned how to blow their noses.
The mucous membranes of the nose are supported by cartilage and bone. If there is a structural blockage due to a previous injury or infection, bleeding may occur when you blow your nose or press down on the bridge of your child’s nose.
Nasal congestion is a common condition that affects children of all ages. Most parents have experienced it with their children or have heard about it from friends and family members.
Nasal congestion occurs when the tiny passages that allow air to flow through the nose become swollen, blocking airflow and causing mucus to build up in the sinuses. This can make your child feel stuffy and uncomfortable, making it difficult to sleep or breathe normally. It can also cause pain and irritation, leading to coughing and sneezing.
How to Clear Blocked Nose
Most children cannot blow their noses until age 4, which is why relieving a younger child’s blocked nose is important.
Nowadays, it’s very simple to walk into any pharmacy and grab one of the many over-the-counter remedies available for a blocked nose or cold.
But medical experts are now warning against using these products on children. They say these drugs do nothing to eliminate a blocked nose or cold and may even have nasty side effects.
Parents, you don’t have to rely on over-the-counter drugs to relieve your child’s blocked nose.
Instead, try one of these simple home remedies:
1. Elevate his head during sleep
Use a rolled-up blanket or towel as a prop under the head side of your child’s mattress to elevate his head and help him breathe more easily.
If your child is under 2 years of age and has a blocked nose, breathing while sleeping may pose some problems, especially if he doesn’t use a pillow and his head is not elevated.
While it’s not recommended that young children use pillows because of the risk of suffocation, you can still help yours breathe easily by raising the head side of his cot mattress from underneath using appropriate props. This will elevate your child’s head, making breathing easier.
Warm steam can help your child’s blocked nose by loosening clogged-up nasal secretions. All you have to do is turn on the hot shower in your bathroom to generate steam. With the door closed, sit with your child in the bathroom for at least 15 minutes to let the steam work its magic!
3. Saline solution
Saline solution that’s specially made for kids will help thin the mucus in your child’s nose.
Any pharmacy will have saline solution for babies and children. Since toddlers or younger babies can’t blow their noses to clear the mucus, saline solution will help thin it out. It’s perfectly safe to use as it’s just a sterile mixture of water and salt. How to use it:
- Put your child in a position where his head is lower than his feet, and you can easily support his head. I often ask my husband or helper to carry my 2-year-old horizontally, with his head slightly dipped down. Expect resistance!
- Gently squeeze one drop of saline solution into each nostril.
- Wait a minute or two to allow the solution to drain through the nasal passages. Your child may sneeze or cough out the thinned mucus, so you better have plenty of tissues ready!
5. Use a nasal aspirator
Image Source: iStock
Since many toddlers and younger babies cannot blow their noses, you could use a nasal aspirator to help suck the mucus out. As explained earlier, you could do this after using a saline solution to thin the mucus.
A nasal aspirator has a bulb section and a long, soft, narrow section that you insert into your child’s nostrils. How to use:
- Have your child sit up straight after using the saline solution if needed.
- Tightly squeeze the bulb part of the aspirator.
- Keeping the aspirator pressed, insert the tip into one nostril.
- Gradually release the pressure on the bulb, letting it draw out the mucus.
- Repeat with the other nostril.
- Separate the bulb from the tip and run under water to clean the mucus. I usually immerse it in boiling water with a drop of Dettol or gentle soap to sanitise the aspirator before its next use.
6. Use a vaporiser or humidifier
A vaporiser helps moisten the air, which in turn helps your child to breathe. It could be especially useful if you use air-conditioning, which sucks out all moisture from the air and can clog up your child’s nose.
You could add a drop of essential eucalyptus oil or menthol or a dab of Vicks into the water in the vaporiser, further easing your child’s blocked nose.
7. Keep your child hydrated
Image source: iStock
Adequate fluid intake not only ensures your child is well hydrated but it also helps thin the mucus in the nose and clear congestion. Water, milk and juice are great, but the clear winner is chicken soup.
Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory effects and stimulates mucus flow out of the nose. Add a bit of grated ginger into the soup for even better results.
What to Do When Baby Has Runny Nose
Runny noses are common in babies, and it’s important to know what to do when your baby has one. Runny noses can lead to other issues, such as congestion or ear infections.
Here are five ways you can help your baby manage his or her runny nose:
1) Keep their airways clear by wiping away mucus from the nostrils with a clean tissue or soft cloth.
2) Don’t try to make them swallow anything unless instructed by your doctor.
3) Give them liquids only after feeding so their mouth doesn’t get too full (you can always give them a little water after they’re done).
4) Clean their nose gently with a nasal aspirator or bulb syringe every few hours until they feel better—but don’t overdo it! If you use a bulb syringe too much, it could irritate the lining of their nose even more and make things worse.
5) If your baby is congested and has a runny nose, make sure he or she gets plenty of rest and some steamy hot showers to relieve that stuffy feeling in their head!
Bring Your Child to the Doctor…
- If your child is less than three months old and develops a fever higher than 38°C.
- If cold symptoms — including the blocked nose — last for more than ten days.
- If your child complains of pain in the nasal passages after two to four days of home treatment.
- If your baby or child has or seems to have an earache (babies with earaches often rub their ears and seem irritable).
- If your child develops other symptoms such as pain or swelling in the face or the chest, a headache or a very bad sore throat.
- If your child seems to be getting worse rather than better.
Share your home remedies for easing your child’s blocked nose with us by leaving a comment.
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
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