“Cranky and irritable” are words which best describes your little one when he is down with a cold and a blocked nose. Seeing your playful imp turn dull may get you worried and anxious. It can give you and your baby sleepless nights. So what do you do? Run to the doctor? Well, there is another way out. Try out home remedies.
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.
Most children are not able to blow their noses until around age 4, which is why relieving a younger child’s blocked nose is important.
These days, 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 in general.
But medical experts are now warning against using these products on children. They say these drugs do nothing to get rid of a blocked nose or cold and may even have nasty side effects.
Parents, you actually 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 that we talk about on the next page.
1. Elevate his head during sleep
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.
My co-sleeping 2-year-old just uses me as a mattress when he has a blocked nose! He clambers on top of me and keeps his head on my chest so that it’s elevated. He gets to sleep and breathe more easily, but I don’t!
4. Saline solution
Any pharmacy will have saline solution for babies and children. Since toddlers or younger babies can’t blow their own 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 better have plenty of tissues ready!
5. Use a nasal aspirator
Since many toddlers and younger babies cannot blow their own noses, you could use a nasal aspirator to help suck the mucus out. You could do this after using saline solution to thin the mucus, as explained earlier.
A nasal aspirator has a bulb section and a long, soft and narrow section that you insert in your child’s nostrils. How to use:
- Have your child sit up straight after using the saline solution if needed. For me, what works is to have someone sit down with my 2-year-old on his/her lap while holding him firmly around his waist.
- Tightly squeeze the bulb part of the aspirator.
- Keeping the aspirator squeezed, 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.
7. Keep your child hydrated
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 not only has anti-inflammatory effects, but it also stimulates the flow of mucus out of the nose. Add a bit of grated ginger into the soup for even better results.
Show 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 10 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 earache often rub their ears and seem irritable).
- If your child develops other symptoms such as pain or swelling in the face or in 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.
THE MAIN OFFENDERS
Every year around 37 million Americans suffer from what is known as sinusitis (a blocked, stuffy nose) at least once each year.
The 4 main contributors to sinusitis, or a bunged up/runny nose:
- Structural abnormalities
- Nonallergic rhinopathy
The symptoms of the 4 primary causes are:
- Blocked drainage ducts
- Nasal swelling
- Narrowing of the nasal ducts
- Nasal polyps
The average adult suffers from the common cold 2-3 per year. Due to lower exposure and immunity, children suffer more colds which explains why Snotty Simon on the playground always has a runny nose.
There are a variety of viruses which can infect us and stimulate a stuffy nose, a byproduct of infection.
Most infections are transmitted via hand to nose contact, such as shaking hands with someone who is coughing and sneezing. Some viruses however, are airborne and are easily contracted such environments.
An airplane is a good example of a place that can be riddled with airborne viruses.
Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group and a professor of medicine and infectious diseases, had this to say of his experience with airborne airplane viruses.
“a cough or sneeze a few rows away could have blown millions of microscopic viruses my way. And if I had turned on my little overhead fan, I could have unknowingly blasted those viruses even faster toward me. All I needed to do after that was touch my eyes, nose or mouth and — voila! Infection.”
You can look at this article by Independent Traveler for tips on how to avoid the dreaded airplane cold.
Once an infection has been contracted and absorbed by the nose, the body goes into defense mode by releasing histamine, a natural substance which stimulates the release of antibodies that then attach themselves to mast cells.
This results in dilated blood vessels and increased mucus production which leads to runny noses, phlegm production and coughing. Symptoms include:
- Nose – sneezing, itching, mucus production
- Sinuses – congestion, headaches
- Eyes – watery, burning, itchy
- Skin – rashes, hives, itches
- Lungs -wheezing, spasms
- Stomach -cramps, diarrhea
If you are suffering from a viral infection your nose will have poor resistance to bacteria. If you are discharging yellow or green mucus, it it is likely that a bacterial infection has set in.
Take a look at this infographic, courtesy of the University of Health Care Utah, to find out what the color of your snot means.
Although it is often recommended that a physician should be consulted, this is usually overkill. The remedies included in this article, more often than not will prove to be sufficient in dealing with bacterial infections.
The solutions provided later, combined with time and rest, should be more than enough to heal a runny or blocked nose caused by infection, thus saving you unnecessary medical bills.
If however, you are feeling particularly under the weather and experience thick mucus discharge, pain in the cheeks, upper teeth and behind or above the eyes and forehead, it may be wise to consult your physician.
When a runny or blocked nose is caused by allergies it is referred to Allergic Rhinitis.
By breathing in pollen, mold, dust or animal dander, the body releases chemicals which cause a variety of alleric reactions such as:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Dark circles under the eyes
Pollen is the biggest contributor to allergies. By avoiding high pollen areas at certain times of the year, places such as grassy fields and flower gardens, you will go a long way towards protecting yourself.
It is however, understandable that you might want to be out in the fresh air taking a stroll through the countryside during the spring and so the remedies can provide a great solution if you do become affected.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can be exasperated by external factors such as cigarette smoke, humidity, the wind, hairsprays, chemicals, perfumes and wood smoke.
As with infection, the body will release histamine (antibodies) to defend against the irritation caused by the allergic reaction and as such, a runny or congested nose shall follow.
Aside from avoidance, symptom relief is typically achieved by using antihistamines such as Benadryl, corticosteroids such as a nasal spray like Mucinex, and decongestants like Sudogest.