How to Relieve Nasal Congestion in Infants

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Nasal congestion in infants can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as the common cold. Determine how to relieve you toddler's nasal congestion with advice from a doctor in this free video on toddler ailments.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to be talking about how to relieve nasal congestion in infants. Now there are a variety of reasons that infants can get a stuffy nose. The most common of course is viral infections; colds. A cold is likely to last no more than seven to ten days. It will go through a phase of having a green mucus as well as phases of clear mucus at the beginning and at the end and that's still a cold. If it goes more than ten days or if there's a fever that lasts more than three days; it goes away for more than twenty-four hours and then returns; you start to think about a bacterial sinus infection and for that, you should speak baby's doctor. Likewise, if there's prolong runny nose that doesn't seem to come with other cold symptoms, your baby certainly could have allergic rhinitis especially if your infant is approaching one year of age; we tend to see it more after six months of age. This may respond to antihistamine medications which your doctor, baby's doctor may prescribe. The biggest problem with congestion is the baby's really need to be able to breath through their noses when they eat and when they sleep. They're obligate nose breathers, we say. So what are you going to do about that? Well, the initial treatment is to get a little bit of salt water nose drops. Now you can run out to the store and buy a brand like Little Noses for example, but you can also make this at home. All you need is a level half teaspoon of salt and one cup of fresh water; clean water of course. You want to take that and heat it up so the salt dissolves and then let it cool down. You certainly don't want to burn your baby's nose. So let it cool back down to at least body temperature. Then take a little dropper and just dribble two or three drops in each side of the nose. Then you need that suction bulb. Hopefully, you still have it from when you came home with your newborn; otherwise, you can buy one at the drugstore for two or three dollars. They're made of rubber and they're usually bright red or light blue in color; although they could be any other color as well. Those are the most common though. Then you're going to go back and suck that stuff right back onto your baby's nose. Key thing about direction; the passages actually go straight back, not up. So you want to cut a point at straight toward the back of the back when you go in. You don't have to jam it way down in the nose. You can just leave it right there at the opening of nose and it'll work just fine. Another note; don't overdo it. You don't have to do this every time your baby turns around; just before feeds and before bedtime. If you go in there too much, you can actually cause more swelling and congestion. Now I haven't mention the possibility of gastroesophageal reflux. But sometimes babies don't spit up a whole lot with their reflux; but they do keep a chronically congested nose and a chronic cough. So if your baby has these symptoms, especially for weeks at a time and they're not getting any better; do talk to your doctor about the possibility of reflux because there are several very effective interventions we can make both medicines and non-medical interventions to help out with that. Talking about dealing with a baby's congested nose, I'm Dr. David Hill.


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