Nasal obstructions aren’t unusual throughout childhood following minor respiratory infections or seasonal allergies. However, some children endure so much congestion that they begin to breathe through their mouths by habit.
If that describes your child, it’s time to visit the pediatric otolaryngology specialists at Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat. There’s a long list of ailments that might explain persistent nose blockages. Dr. Scott Bateman and his team can help you by diagnosing and treating the cause of your child’s breathing issues.
Reasons for nasal obstruction
Even minor respiratory infections like cold or flu can cause big problems for children due to their developing anatomies. Their nasal passages and eustachian tubes haven’t yet reached full size, so it takes less fluid to cause blockages. Conditions that cause nasal obstructions include:
- Adenoid and sinus infections
- Large adenoids
- Allergic rhinitis: including hay fever and other allergies with respiratory response
- Non-allergic rhinitis: from environmental conditions like smoke and airborne irritants
- Nasal polyps: dangling growths blocking the nasal passages
- Foreign bodies: more common with younger children, including small objects and toys
- Deviated septum: the cartilage wall between nostrils is asymmetrical
Less common causes of nasal obstruction include cysts, tumors, and birth defects that cause the narrowing or closure of regular airways. A nose injury can also contribute to blockages.
Why is mouth breathing a problem?
For newborns and infants, breathing through the nose is an important part of the nursing and feeding process. Chronic obstructions can interfere with the quality of your child’s sleep, too, and nasal breathing plays a role in their facial development.
In rare cases, sinus infections can spread, creating more serious systemic infections, and chronic drainage problems can also affect the ears, leading to hearing loss in some cases, if the underlying conditions aren’t treated.
Relieving congestion in children
When allergies or simple respiratory infections persist, you may be able to encourage natural drainage through a few home care treatments, including:
Cool mist humidifiers add moisture to the air, making a dry cough easier to bear while helping to ease congestion. Place the humidifier unit out of reach of curious young hands, and follow cleaning procedures provided with the unit to prevent mold, which can be an allergy trigger for some children.
Newborns and infants don’t yet have the skills to clear their own noses, so using a suction bulb designed for the purpose lets you gently assist your child. Some children may resist or find the experience painful, so don’t force this treatment.
After bathing your child, sit with them in the bathroom with the shower running hot to produce a steam-filled environment to help loosen congestion. Don’t leave a child unattended, and don’t let the room get so hot or humid that breathing becomes difficult.
More than simply a bit of folklore, the saltiness and warmth of the soup may help loosen congestion while also keeping your child hydrated and eating while they’re feeling ill.
If your child’s mouth breathing persists, make an appointment with Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat, by phone or online, for an exam and diagnosis. Breathing easy is important for your child’s development, so schedule your visit today.