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No parents like to see their child suffer. It breaks their hearts when they see their child in intense pain. Even the most common things like a blocked nose could become extremely uncomfortable and painful at times for babies. If you see your child suffering from a blocked nose and struggling for every breath, you will want to do everything you can to help him. And, one of the most talked-about solutions for nasal blockages is using a nasal spray. There are many nasal sprays available in the market that can provide relief from a blocked nose, but are these sprays safe for children? Let’s find out!
What Are Nasal Sprays?
Nasal sprays are just a short-term solution that provides instant relief from congested nasal passages, caused by colds, sinus infections, and allergies. Although nasal sprays provide immediate relief, they should not be used for more than three days in a row. Also, they should not be used for infants unless specifically prescribed by a doctor.
Types of Nasal Sprays
There are three types of nasal sprays which are used on the severity of the blockage. Here’s what each one of them is used for:
1. Saline Nasal Sprays
Saline nasal sprays are made of salt-water and do not contain any medication. Salt-water helps in loosening excess mucus in the nasal passage. It also moisturises the passage and even provides relief from breathing problems.
2. Nasal Decongestant Sprays
These provide relief pretty quickly as they contain chemical medications in them. Decongestant nasal sprays work by narrowing the tiny blood vessels in your nose and reduces the swelling. If these are used for more than three to four days in a row, they tend to have the opposite effect and can worsen the congestion once the effects of the medication wear off. You can purchase these with a doctor’s prescription.
3. Steroid Nasal Sprays
Steroid nasal sprays are used to treat nasal blockages due to allergic rhinitis. They work by blocking histamine, are anti-inflammatory, and comparatively effective because only one dose of the medication can last for up to 12 hours.
Are Nasal Sprays Safe for Children?
You may be wondering if nasal sprays are safe for babies or not? While most decongestant nasal sprays can provide immediate relief to your child, sometimes they may have a negative effect too. They might worsen the congestion once you stop the medication. That’s why it is always recommended to use saline nasal sprays for babies as they do not contain any medication.
Thus, not all nasal sprays will be safe for your baby. Some might have side effects too. In the rest of the article, we’ve tried to address some common concerns/ questions about using nasal sprays for babies and kids.
Do Allergic Nasal Sprays Affect a Child’s Growth?
Some children need to use nasal sprays to manage the symptoms of their allergies. These are often steroid sprays, which are known to affect the growth of the child. Allergic rhinitis is the most prevalent allergy that requires the use of these nasal sprays. The sprays that contain the ingredient beclomethasone are known to slow down the growth rate in children. However, if the nasal spray has Nasonex (mometasone) as the main active ingredient, it makes the spray harmless and does not impact the growth of the child.
How to Use Nasal Sprays?
No child is going to enjoy someone squirting something up their nose, but sometimes as a parent, you don’t have a choice. Follow these simple steps to administer nasal sprays to your child:
Babies cannot blow their noses; hence it is up to the parents to remove the mucus blocking their nasal passage. Here are some ways to go about it:
- Keep a nasal spray, towel, an aspirator and some tissues handy.
- Lay your baby in your lap – his head on your knees and feet pointing to your belly.
- Be gentle as you spray one or two drops into one of his nostrils. Wait for a few seconds as the spray will start to work and loosen the excess mucus.
- Close the other nostril and then using a fully compressed aspirator, suck out all the mucus.
- Discard the mucus into the towel or sink and then wipe off your baby’s nose with a tissue.
- Repeat the process on the other nostril.
- Make sure you do not touch the nozzle of the spray directly to your baby’s nose as it can spread germs.
For Older Kids
Older kids can resist better against things they don’t like. But, if you are gentle while administering the spray to your child, even this can go smoothly.
- Support your seated child with one arm and use the other hand to administer the drops.
- Ask your child to tilt his head back slightly.
- Ask your child to breath and then squirt one drop into each nostril.
- Do not touch the spray to your child’s nose, as the infection may spread.
- Once you are sure that the mucus is loosening up, help your child blow his nose.
If using a nasal spray sounds intimidating to you, or your baby hasn’t shown improvement, or he just won’t let you spray, you could try some of the alternatives given below.
Alternatives to Nasal Sprays to Relieve Nasal Congestion in a Child
Not everyone is a fan of nasal sprays. If you are not sure how often to use saline nasal sprays for babies or toddlers, there are alternative methods you can use to help your child get rid of congestion:
- Steam – Steam is an age-old remedy for treating nasal congestion. You can use a vaporiser during bedtime or a makeshift sauna in the bathroom. Giving steam will help in loosening the mucus, thereby providing relief from nasal congestion.
- Warm Baths – Warm baths can help divert the baby’s mind and also relieve the blockage. Run a hot shower to accumulate some steam. That will also help clear the blockage to some extent.
- Vapour Rub – If your child is older than four years old, you can always use eucalyptus oil or any vapour rub. These are known to be very effective in treating nasal congestion.
- Warm Liquids – Giving warm liquids like chicken soup also help in decongestion. You can also feed your child soups rich in vitamin C, like tomato soup, broccoli soup, lemon and coriander soup, etc. to help provide some relief.
- Healthy Diet – Many babies experience nasal congestion due to cold, which is quite common among those who have a low immune system. If your baby is has moved on to solid foods, you must incorporate foods that help build his immunity. If your baby is still breastfeeding, you must consume a healthy diet to pass down all the nutrients to your little one through your breast milk.
As mentioned above, babies have an underdeveloped immune system. Hence they may catch a cold easily. If you follow the guidelines given here, administering nasal sprays to your child will become easy. If you do not prefer the use of sprays, try one of the alternate methods. But remember, never self-medicate your child and always ensure a paediatrician validates the alternative methods before you try them. These precautionary measures will help you ensure that your baby does not go through another set of medical issues and recovers soon.