Watching your precious one struggle with a blocked or runny nose can be really disturbing. In addition to making your little one really uncomfortable, a congested nose would reduce your and your baby’s sleep time.
Thankfully, you are not alone.
Nasal congestion, or a stuffy nose, is a common condition for most babies. Have you ever stopped to wonder why your baby’s nose gets congested? Do you want to know how to treat your baby’s blocked nose?
This article is just for you.
In this post, we’d walk you through seven of the major causes of nasal congestion in babies and why it is so common. In addition, we’ve compiled reliable tips on what to do when your baby’s nose gets blocked.
Read on to learn more!
Table of contents
What Is Baby Congestion?
Baby congestion occurs when the nasal passage of your baby is irritated or infected. Your baby’s body responds by making the passage swell up and increasing the production of mucus. Babies cannot blow their noses just like we adults do, so the excess mucus accumulates in the nose.
When the nose is congested, the breathing of your baby may be affected. This is because babies can only breathe through their noses. Sometimes, your baby appears to be congested whereas there’s only a little amount of mucus. This is because babies’ airways are tiny and immature. Therefore, a little mucus can make it congested.
Symptoms of baby congestion.
Baby congestion can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the symptoms. You may notice any of the following:
- Noisy breathing
- Thick nasal mucus
- Difficult feeding
Six Reasons for your baby’s congestion
1. Breathing in dry air
When your baby breathes in the air with low humidity, the nasal passage becomes dry and irritated. The body responds by producing more mucus thereby causing congestion.
2. Cold weather
Cold air cannot retain moisture as much as warm air. As temperatures fall during the cold winter season, humidity also drops. Breathing in this air thins out the protective layer of mucus in the nasal passage and predispose it to irritation.
3. Air pollutants
Air pollutants irritate the nasal passage. The air around your baby can be polluted by cooking smoke, cigarette smoke, scented candles, air fresheners or heavy perfumes, and room paint or varnish. So, when your baby breathes in polluted air, her nose becomes easily congested.
The body defense of babies is immature, it does not respond to environmental allergens found in the air. However, overexposure to environmental allergens can trigger allergies. Also, your baby may react to other allergens such as breast milk or milk-based formula. Asides from the nasal congestion, your baby may develop rash, hives, or eczema. There may also be some episodes of sneezing. In contrast to congestion caused by infections, the allergy will not cause fever in your baby.
5. Viral Infection
In the early years of life, viral infections are the commonest cause of baby congestion. The common cold is a self-limiting disease that is transmitted through inhaling virus-infected respiratory droplets. It can also be contracted by touching infected secretions. There are a lot of viruses that can cause these infections. Also, these viruses change constantly, with newer forms emerging from time to time. As such, it’s difficult for your baby’s body to develop resistance against them.
Infections are more common during the fall, winter, or rainy season (in warmer climates). Infants and young children are more likely to develop the common cold because they have not yet developed immunity to many of the implicated viruses. Also, your baby may have more episodes of cold if she attends child care centers.
You may notice the following in addition to the other symptoms when your baby’s congestion is from an infection:
- A runny nose with clear discharge
- Low-grade fever
Other upper respiratory tract infections can cause nasal congestion. They include flu, which is widespread during the flu season, and respiratory syncytial virus infection.
6. A deviated nasal septum.
The nasal passage is divided into two by a middle nasal septum. In some babies, the septum slightly deviates to one side. These babies become congested easily and frequently.
7. Adenoid hypertrophy
This occurs when the adenoid (a gland located between the nose and back of the throat) is enlarged. The function of the adenoid is to fight off any invading organism coming through the nose or mouth. The adenoids can become enlarged from infections or allergies. When the adenoid swells up, it can obstruct the nasal passage causing accumulation of mucus. This leads to nasal congestion.
What to do
Baby congestion is usually harmless and self-limiting. All you need to do is to provide comfort for your baby while the illness lasts. Home remedies to keep your baby comfortable include:
- Give your baby a warm bath. This will help to clear the congestion and also make your baby comfortable.
- Feed your baby frequently and confirm she’s making enough urine. You can do this by monitoring how many wet diapers she makes per day.
- Add one or two drops of saline to your baby’s nostril. This helps to loosen the mucus and relieve the stuffy nose.
- Provide steam or cool mist through the use of a humidifier or by running a hot shower.
- Make sure to move your baby away from any potential allergen or air pollutants.
- You can also suction out the excess mucus to help clear the nasal passageway.
Baby congestion is a rather harmless but frustrating condition in our babies. It is important to know the reasons why our babies have this condition. If you notice that your baby has congestion, try home remedies to relieve her symptoms. However, if symptoms persist or get worse, contact your healthcare provider.