If your baby has a stuffy nose, don’t worry – there are some easy ways to help make him/her more comfortable.
For the first few months of their lives, babies breathe mostly through their noses. This is because they have not yet learned to breathe through their mouths. Babies also have very tiny, narrow nasal passages and this means that they can easily become blocked. Even a small amount of secretions or mucus can result in them sounding “snuffly”. The most common cause for nasal congestion is a cold, because babies’ immune systems are still developing, but even changes in air temperature and humidity may contribute to a baby’s nose becoming partially blocked.
Nasal congestion in babies younger than six months can cause discomfort and make it difficult for them to breathe and feed. It can even make mealtimes stressful and nighttimes restless for moms!
Nasal congestion is not a serious health risk. However it needs to be treated properly for the following reasons:
• A stuffy nose and / or a cold can lead to more serious bacterial infections like flu, ear infections or even pneumonia in newborns or babies.
• Babies will insist on breathing through their noses, even when their noses are blocked. A clear nose is essential for feeding as babies will have either a nipple or bottle in their mouths at the time. A blocked nose can therefore make feeding time difficult, as the baby may become irritable and the mother frustrated and concerned, which in turn may affect the flow of breast milk.
So what can you do to help?
• You can use a humidifier to help moisturise and filter the air.
• You can use saline drops or a sea water nasal spray to help clear the mucous.
Please note that it is not recommended to use decongestant drops (such as those containing ephedrine or xylometazoline) for more than a week. These drops relieve a blocked nose by making the lining of the nose and its blood vessels shrink. If you use them for too long they can in the end have a rebound effect, making the blocked nose worse.
When should you contact your doctor?
• If your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 37,5 ⁰C or higher;
• If your baby’s cold symptoms last for longer than 1 week;
• If your baby develops a cough which worsens and turns into wheezing or gasping;
• If your baby pulls or tugs at his/her ears frequently;
• If you have questions or are concerned about your baby in any way.
This article was kindly supplied by Actor Pharma (Pty) Limited, distributor of Sterimar Baby (Nasal Spray)