Treating congestion in babies


How do you treat congestion in babies? I'm Dr. Alan Greene and particularly when over-the-counter decongestants became clear they're not good for babies, parents have been wondering all the more how do you deal with it then? There are a few things. First of all, there's the bulb syringe which you probably went home from the hospital with. And it actually can be effective at helping to pull some of the mucous out - some of the viral load out as well of the nose. They're very easy to use. The trick is you just squeeze everything as much air as you can out of the bulb syringe to start, then gently push it as far as it will go up into the nose and release. Then it will pull both virus and mucous out. You can get more out if you put a few drops of saline nose drops in first. That'll help make it more difficult for the virus to reproduce. It'll help loosen things up so you can pull more out. They can act a bit as a natural decongestant as well. Do the nasal drops, wait maybe 10 minutes, and then do the bulb syringe.

Other things that help - gravity can be your friend. All of us tend to be more congested when we're lying flat when our head is about the same level as our heart. And that's even more true for babies. They're more responsive to gravity. So if you're holding the baby upright against your shoulder with their head above their heart, they will naturally and quickly be less congested.

Another thing that can be very helpful is a vaporizer. And the way that works a vaporizer humidifier by putting extra moisture in the air will help to thin the mucous so the mucous will draw that extra moisture in and will be thinner and easier to get out either by the bulb syringe, by sneezing, or just the baby's own mechanisms. So there are gentle and natural ways you can help relieve congestion in your young baby.


Review Date: 9/18/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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