How to help your child overcome runny nose, stuffy nose and cough?
Are you wondering how to help your child overcome runny nose, nasal congestion and cough? In this article I am going to focus on the best practices for babies 12 months and under. And I'll end by talking about the symptoms that indicate that you should have your child evaluated by a healthcare provider.
Upper respiratory infection:
Also known as the common cold, it is one of the most common illnesses that children experience. There are over 200 different viruses known to cause symptoms of upper respiratory infections. Runny nose, nasal congestion and cough are present with many viruses. The child's immune system is well equipped to deal with viral infections.
But since they can't clear their nose or clear out mucus that builds up in the back of the throat, there are things you can do to help those symptoms. First I want to mention the common symptoms of upper respiratory infection in babies. Many of them will be accompanied by a runny nose, a runny nose, and a cough.
The following symptoms may also be present:
Fever, sneezing, sore throat, loss of appetite, decreased activity level, and fussiness. Usually after onset, symptoms get worse in the first 2 to 3 days, and then they usually begin to improve. Initially the mucus becomes transparent, thin and runny. However, it thickens over the next several days and may turn white, yellow or green.
Contrary to popular belief, a change of mucus to one of these colors does not necessarily mean that the baby now has a bacterial infection. As the mucus thickens, there will be less dripping down the nose and more sticking to the back of the throat. Around this time the cough will get worse, and there may be a more wet voice.
Risk of respiratory tract infection:
Because of the mucus, some babies also have a rattling sound in their upper airways. Many parents become concerned about coughing, but in most situations when it is associated with an upper respiratory tract infection, coughing is actually the body's natural mechanism to protect the lungs. When mucus runs down the back of the throat from the nose, the child coughs to prevent it from getting into the airways and lungs, and instead moves the mucus down the digestive tract.
On average, an upper respiratory infection will last about 7 to 10 days. However some babies may have residual symptoms that last longer. In the first several days after an upper respiratory infection, when there is thin and runny mucus coming out of the nose. When they are sick, babies are able to eat better than when they don't have mucus in their breath. When mucus is not blocking the nose, they are able to get more uninterrupted sleep.
Try the suction procedure:
Suctioning the baby's nose immediately after breastmilk or formula feeding can lead to sputum. It is recommended to suction the baby's nose 3 or less times a day. Doing this too often can actually irritate the nose. At first it will be beneficial for both you and your baby if you find an approach that will help them move around a lot while suctioning. This is easier said than done.
It is normal for babies to be upset and trying to move around while sucking their nose. So keep in mind that accidentally moving the baby's head or arms can cause injury when you are trying to do something. Plus, you'll be able to expel mucus quicker and more effectively when your baby is in a position that greatly reduces movement.
I'm going to mention several approaches, so you can find out what's best for you and your baby. For babies from newborn to 4 months old, it works well to either wrap them completely or wrap the arms around the baby's chest. Swaddling helps babies feel more secure as if they were in the womb. It also helps you by keeping the baby's arms away from the face.
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Tips for suctioning:
If two adults are present, with the child lying on their back, one may gently support the child's head and the other may suckle through the nose. If you are doing it yourself, hug your baby and lie on his back. Using one hand, gently press down on the baby's jaw to support the head from moving. Place your thumb on one side of the jaw and the index and middle fingers on the other. Make sure not to put any pressure on the baby's neck. You can then use your other hand to suction the nose.
Another option for holding baby securely is to place your baby on your lap with your head towards your knees. Use the area between your knees to gently support the baby's head while using your hands to suck the nose. For babies who can be placed in a sitting position, which is usually around 4 months of age or older, you can have the baby sit on your lap facing away from you.
This approach works best when two adults are present, one can hold the child while the other suctions through the nose. The one who will be holding the baby can gently wrap one arm around the front of the baby to help ease the movement and keep the baby's arms down and away from the face. Then with the other hand, gently pat the child's jaw by placing the thumb on one side of the jaw and the index and middle finger on the other side.
Make sure not to put any pressure on the baby's neck. Gently tilt the baby's head up, and bring the back of the head close to your body. You are now ready to do nasal suction for another adult. Either an adult talking to the child or singing a song will act as a distraction.
Use of Bulb Suction:
If you're using bulb suction, squeeze the bulb first to get the air out, then insert it into the baby's nostril until you get a good seal. Be careful not to push it too far to prevent irritation or bleeding. Slowly release the pressure on the bulb to release the mucus.
Put the suction mouthpiece in your mouth first, and then once you get a good seal with the tip on the baby's nostril, suck the mucus first and then slowly from the other side. If you prefer that option, there are also electric nasal aspirators. Most parents find that one approach is more effective than the other.
Using nasal saline drops or sprays:
You may need to do some trial and error to find what works best for you and your baby. In situations when the mucus in a child's nose becomes thick, I recommend using nasal saline drops or spray to thin it out before attempting to cough it out. Nasal saline is salty water and works well to loosen mucus.
Holding your baby securely, put 2 to 3 drops or 1 to 3 sprays in each nostril and wait a few minutes until the mucus has thinned and loosened. Something that I find also helps, especially if the child seems to have a runny nose and a wet cough, is to hold the baby upright after pouring the saline into the nose.
Many parents notice that sometimes the child begins to cough more immediately after using the nasal saline drops and suction. This is normal. Since the nose has thick mucus and drips after nasal drip, more drips down the back of the throat. The child will cough to keep the mucus from getting into the lungs.
Use of humidifier:
The mucus that you are not able to expel will be swallowed by the baby, and go into the digestive tract. Another thing that helps is the use of a humidifier. There are warm-mist and cool-mist humidifiers. They are both considered equally effective. But because of the risk that a warm-mist humidifier may irritate the baby, cool-mist is recommended for this age group.
Be sure to follow the included instructions, and keep it properly cleaned. Set it on a sturdy surface several feet from the baby's crib to prevent it from drifting directly across the face. Wearing it while your baby is sleeping can really help with their breathing.
Hot water in the shower will give relief:
Another option is to steam it in the bathroom by running hot water in the shower. Have your child spend time playing or taking a hot bath while breathing in moist air. This will help in thinning and loosening the mucus. If your child seems congested afterward, feel free to use nasal saline drops or spray to loosen up the mucus further. Then tap the back for several minutes to further help loosen it. And finish with nose suction.
A cough caused by an upper respiratory infection can be very distressing for the child and the parent. And it gets worse when the baby is lying down to sleep. As I mentioned, most of the time the cough itself is a protective mechanism that prevents the mucus dripping down the back of the throat from getting into the baby's lungs.
Avoid chemical drugs:
Cough chemicals are not recommended for children. Studies have consistently shown that they do not work, and can cause serious side effects. However, one study showed a reduction in night-time coughing in children 2 months of age and older who were given 3 or 4 ml of agave nectar syrup 30 minutes before bedtime compared to children who received nothing.
You may have heard that honey also reduces cough, but it is not recommended for babies under one year of age due to the risk of botulism. Vapor or chest rub is another home remedy that has been shown to reduce cough and congestion at night and improve sleep.
Zarabies contains a great natural medicine that can be applied to the chest, neck, back or lower legs for babies 2 months of age and older. Keeping mucus thin through the use of nasal saline and a humidifier, and by helping the child clear it with nasal suction, will help reduce coughing. Keeping the baby well hydrated during illness will also help prevent the mucus from becoming too thick.
Special symptoms that need attention:
Now let's talk about the symptoms that are indicators that you should get your child evaluated by a healthcare provider.
Whenever children feel that they are having trouble breathing, they should be seen immediately. Symptoms of shortness of breath include the baby's belly moving up and down as they breathe rapidly. They may also cause retraction, which will involve pulling the muscles between the ribs, under the ribs, and in the neck inward as the baby breathes.
Some babies will have a burning nose. The nostrils of the child widen while breathing in it. Other related symptoms include noisy breathing or wheezing. If a baby's temperature is 100.4°F or 38°C or higher in the first month of life, they should be evaluated immediately.
Older children should be observed if their fever is not getting better with the appropriate dose of fever-reducing medication or if the fever persists for 5 days or more. Other associated symptoms include nasal discharge, suction and humidification, or a child's cough that continues to worsen even after a cough that lasts more than 2 weeks.
When your child is sick, remember that this is one way your child develops immunity to infection. And this process actually works to strengthen their immune system. By doing the things that I have mentioned in this article, you will be able to reduce the runny nose, stuffy nose and cough, and help your child get over these quickly.
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