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Night time sniffles

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A blocked nose is terribly distressing for babies, particularly at night time when sleep is affected, writes Gemma Gallagher

Remember the last time you had a stuffy nose? However uncomfortable it was during the day, remember how much worse it was at night, and how difficult it was to sleep?

Now imagine how much more difficult it would be for a baby to suffer a congested nose.

Babies breathe through their noses so nasal congestion can be incredibly distressing for them.

This will undoubtedly affect sleep and feeding patterns can become unsettled and erratic, which leads to more upset.

It’s a tiring and frustrating circle for all concerned.

Why do babies get blocked noses?

Stuffy noses or nasal congestion occurs when the tissues inside the nose become swollen or produce mucus.

As they were surrounded by fluid in the womb, many newborns have stuffy noses, and they will often sneeze for a couple of days as they try to get rid of the leftover fluid.

This is completely normal.

Dry air, irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke and perfumes, or viral infections can also be the culprit of a blocked, irritated nose.

What are the symptoms of a blocked nose?

Nasal congestion is relatively easy to spot – here are some of the main symptoms: –

  • Sneezing
  • Noisy nasal breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping and feeding
  • Nasal discharge
  • Crying and/or agitation
  • Dry, red nostrils and lips

How to soothe an irritated nose and  help ease the congestion.

If you can help your baby breathe easier and feel more comfortably, you will both enjoy considerably better sleep. Here are some things you can try to help ease the congestion:

  • Infant nasal saline sprays will help to clear the nose and soften any dry or thick mucus, so that it is easily removed. Often babies will clear their nose by sneezing and coughing, so be sure to have a tissue to hand.
  • Using a nasal aspirator, which draws out the mucus before a feed, will extract stubborn blobs of mucus. There are many different types so there will be one that works for you and baby. Admittedly it doesn’t sound very appealing or glamorous but the results are quite impressive.
  • Steam therapy is also very popular, especially in the evening before a bath. Close the bathroom door and run the hot water tap or shower for a few minutes to create a steam room effect. As your baby is still young, the use of oils is not encouraged unless suggested by your GP.

Could it be something more serious?

Whilst nasal congestion can cause a lot aggravation and distress to babies and parents, it is usually not serious.

However, if your baby has a fever, is in respiratory distress (breathing fast with flared nostrils or with rapid retractions of the chest), or is having persistant difficulty with feeding, you should seek immediate assistance from your GP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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