Children and colds — they seem to go hand-in-hand. Preventing your child from catching a cold once every few months (or even more frequently) is almost unavoidable especially if they go to pre-school or school.
A cold comes with many irritating symptoms, such as cough and congestion. But perhaps the most annoying of them all is a runny nose. A runny nose can also be caused by things like allergies, influenza etc.
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For me, there’s nothing more irritating than seeing a constant stream of snot dribbling out of my 2-year-old’s nose when he has a cold. It’s irritating for him too, as he is too small to blow his nose to clear the mucus.
And then, of course, there’s the hygiene factor. How many of you parents have had to deal with small kids constantly wiping their runny nose with their hands, and then wiping their hands on their clothes, on the walls, on their siblings… or on you?
The good news is that a runny nose caused by the common cold certainly isn’t cause for too much worry.
While there are over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines that can dry out the mucus, they can make your child drowsy and also dry out his nose, mouth and eyes.
Paediatricians and other medical experts also caution against using over-the-counter drugs to stop a kid’s runny nose, because of the above-mentioned, and other unnecessary side effects.
What causes a kid’s runny nose?
- Allergies: Here, the runny nose is usually accompanied by sneezing and/or red, itchy eyes.
- Newborn congestion: If your newborn baby has a runny nose with no other symptoms, it’s probably just the mucus in her system that accumulated during gestation leaving her body.
- Exposure to cold weather: If your toddler or older kid has a runny nose with no other symptoms, it could be just due to exposure to cold weather, or eating spicy food.
- Common cold: A kid who has a runny nose caused by a cold might also have other symptoms like mild fever, cough, sore throat, watery eyes and sneezing.
- Influenza: Influenza, or flu, is more severe than a common cold, and a runny nose caused by the flu may also be accompanied with symptoms such as chills, muscle ache, sore throat, dizziness and loss of appetite.
- A foreign object stuck in the nose: If your child stuff something up one nostril, then the ensuing runny nose may also be accompanied by discharge, blood and/or pain.
The most common cause for a kid’s runny nose is a cold… and there are plenty of over-the-counter medicines that are supposed to dry up the mucus produced by a runny nose.
However, before you turn to these chemical concoctions, why not try out some effective and gentle home remedies for your kid’s runny nose first?
1. Saline spray and nasal aspiration
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Especially effective for a younger child who is not old enough to blow his nose, a saline spray will thin thick mucus, which you can then suck out with a nasal aspirator. Saline spray is perfectly safe to use, even on a very young baby.
How to use:
– Hold your child in a position where his head is lower than his feet.
– Gently squeeze a drop of the solution in each nostril.
– After a minute or 2, use the aspirator to remove the mucus by firmly squeezing on its bulb-end, inserting the long-end gently up one nostril, and gradually releasing your hold on the bulb.
– Repeat with the other nostril.
2. Blow that snot out!
Simple yet effective… get your older kid to blow his runny nose frequently to clear out the mucus.
Remember to ensure he washes his hands and disposes of the dirty tissue each time he cleans his nose.
3. Plenty of liquids
Lots of liquids, including water, milk, juice and soup, will help thin the mucus in your child’s nose and make cleaning it much easier.
4. A warm bath
The steam produced by giving your child a warm bath will help thin and loosen the mucus that is causing his runny nose, making it easier for your child to either blow it out or for you to use the aspirator.
In kids over the age of 2, you could add a drop or 2 of eucalyptus or lavender essential oil to their warm bathwater — so much gentler on that little runny nose than harsh chemicals found in over-the-counter drugs!
5. Mild ginger tea
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Sometimes, kids don’t always expel the mucus in their nose and swallow it instead which can cause an irritated tummy. In this instance, a mild ginger tea will help settle that sore little tummy like magic.
Just brew some grated ginger in very mild tea… you could add some honey to the tea (only if your child is over 1 year) if you like. Yummy and effective!
6. Elevate your child’s head during while sleeping
This will prevent the mucus from running back up the nasal passage and causing congestion, and instead, encourage the mucus to run out of the nose.
Use a rolled-up towel or another appropriate prop under the head side of your child’s mattress to elevate his head. If your child is old enough to use a pillow, use one that is firm and high.
Take your child to the doctor if…
- The runny nose is accompanied by a high fever for over 2 days.
- Your child also has chills, body aches, fever and/or vomiting and diarrhoea (these symptoms could indicate that your child has influenza).
- You suspect your child’s runny nose is caused by a foreign object lodged in the nasal passage.
- You think your kid’s runny nose might be caused by allergies. If this is the case, the doctor can suggest the best course of action to tackle the allergies.
How do you help your child at home when he/she has a runny nose? Share your experience with us by leaving a comment!