Congestion in Infants and Children
What is Congestion?
Do you feel that your child is not able to breathe the right way? It may be because of congestion. Congestion is the presence of stuffy feeling or blocked nose. There are many different conditions that can lead to nasal congestion in infants and children. Some of these conditions and causes settle on their own while others need to be treated medically. There are many medicines as well as self-help remedies that can help in curing congestion in your child. You will also find plenty of sprays, medicines, tablets that are available over the counter to make your child feel comfortable.
What is nasal congestion? It is a bunged up, stuffy or blocked feeling of nose. If your child is suffering from congestion then there can be several causes for this and depending on the causes of congestion, it can last for some days or can become persistent. People of all ages from infants to adults can be affected by nasal congestion. In children however, he causes are rather annoying than serious ones. In infants, nasal congestion leads to blocked nose which makes it difficult for them to breathe and feed. Nasal congestion in itself is not a disease but a symptom. The stuffy or blocked nose of your child is not the disease but the symptom. The illness or disease is the condition that is causing these symptoms. There are many problems that can be associated with nasal congestion in children. Let us take a look at the illnesses and diseases that can lead to nasal congestion.
Below are the most common causes of nasal congestion among children:
- Infections which include respiratory tract infection, common cold, sinusitis and influenza
- Persistent rhinitis
- Nasal polyps
Following are the less common and less known causes of congestion:
- Injuries to the nose
- Foreign bodies in the nose
- Swollen adenoid glands
- Tumors inside the nose or of the sinuses
- Some medications and their side effects
The Common Cold
Common cold is one of the main reasons of congestion among children. It is caused because of the presence of germs in the nasal tract of your child. These infections can cause a runny or a blocked nose in addition to other symptoms. The child will feel tired and unwell. You may also notice a rising temperature and the infant may also have cough. The child may also have a constant discharge from nose which may be green, yellow or clear. It may be sticky, thick or watery.
Flu or influenza is also caused by the presence of a virus in the nasal cavity. It is quite similar to common cold but having it will make the child feel more exhausted, tired and unwell. You will notice that the child has become stubborn and complains of pain in the body.
Sinuses are small spaces present inside the forehead and cheekbones filled with air. Some mucus is made by them that get drained out from the nasal cavity. Sinusitis is a disease that can cause an inflammation of these small sinuses. Caused by infection, the problem of sinusitis may be persistent or can also wither away in about 4 weeks in children. The usual symptoms of sinusitis include nasal congestion along with pain in the areas containing affected sinuses.
Swollen Adenoid Glands
One of the main reasons of nasal congestion, especially in kids, is swollen adenoid glands. Adenoid glands are bits of tissue that are hanging down from the back of the nose and shrink during young age. Runny or blocked nose can be caused by them if they become too enlarged. Noisy breathing and snoring may also be caused by them. If they cause a serious problem, they are then usually removed along with tonsils.
Generally, there are no tests conducted for nasal congestion in children. The doctor will try determining the cause behind your child’s nasal congestion by examining them and asking questions about their symptoms and conditions. If there is no apparent cause for nasal congestion and the problem persists evener after treatment, you might have to take your child to an ENT specialist where they will be tested for allergies and blood test may also be conducted on them. They will also be checked by the ENT specialist with a telescope at the back of their nose. An MRI or a CT scan may also be conducted occasionally if no other causes of the problem are found.
While most of the time the problem gets better on its own, yet there are a number of ways that can help you get rid of blocked, stuffy or runny nose of your child and make them feel better. These remedies tend to work for a short time though and need to be repeated again if the problem persists:
- Steam Inhalation
- Salt water
- Methanol pastilles, rubs and vapors
- Decongestant sprays and drops for nose
- Decongestant syrups and tablets
- Steroid sprays
When do you need to take your child to a doctor?
In most of the cases of nasal congestion among children, it is not necessary to take them to a doctor and the problems settles on its own. However, if your child has any of the following conditions, you should definitely take them to a doctor:
- Nasal congestion that is persistent for more than a couple of weeks despite trying remedies
- You are not sure about the cause of nasal congestion in your child
- You notice a bloody discharge coming from the child’s nose
- Your child’s nose is blocked on one side only
- You child has high temperature in addition to nasal congestion
- Your child is having severe nasal congestion and is having difficulty in breathing or feeding
- You feel that your child is too tired and unwell
While nasal congestion is a common problem among infants and children, it is important to make sure that you know and understand the cause behind it and try curing the cause. Nasal congestion is just a symptom of some other illness or disease in your child and you need to take care of it.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.