Symptoms of nasal congestion in babies include difficulty feeding, coughing, noisy breathing, and sneezing. Typically, nasal congestion in babies, as with people of all ages, is the result of inflamed nasal passages, and not caused by an accumulation of mucus. In addition, nasal congestion in babies might also produce a harsh or hoarse-sounding cry and excessive drooling. Although drooling in babies is normal and expected, excessive episodes of drooling might signal nasal congestion. Babies are unable to voice their complaints, so their condition needs to be closely monitored for changes that can signal distress.
Typically, nasal congestion in babies is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, allergies to formula, dry air, and adenoid enlargement. Although nasal drainage and excessive nasal mucus usually signifies an illness, nasal congestion sometimes does not. Noisy breathing and nasal congestion can be the result of the small structure of the baby's nose, and will frequently resolve as the baby gets older and his nose gets larger.
Over-the-counter saline nose drops can help moisten the nasal passages and clear out dried secretions. Setting up a vaporizer in the baby's room will add humidity to the air and ease nasal congestion. The vaporizer unit needs to be kept scrupulously clean because bacteria can propagate and cause infection if the device is not cleaned after each use.
When nasal congestion in babies is related to a bacterial infection, the pediatrician will usually prescribe liquid antibiotics. These are generally well tolerated in infants, however, they can sometimes cause stomach irritation, or even cause the baby to vomit. It is important for the baby to retain his antibiotic and if he is continues to vomit when given the antibiotic, the pediatrician needs to be notified so he can offer an alternative treatment to the infection. When the infection goes away, the infection-related nasal congestion will subside as well.
Nasal congestion in babies is a result of swollen nasal passages and not an overabundance of mucus. For this reason, infant bulb syringes are not recommended. Using this instrument will likely only irritate the tissues further and exacerbate congestion.
Infant formulas and cereals can sometimes trigger allergies and subsequent nasal congestion. The pediatrician can experiment with different brands and formulations to best determine which one causes the least allergic reaction. Sometimes, this is a lengthy and arduous process, however, an allergy-free formula is usually found that will not produce allergy symptoms such as sinus congestion. Occasionally, the pediatrician will recommend that the baby see an allergist to further determine what he is allergic to, which will better facilitate an appropriate treatment plan.