Using Nasal Sprays for Babies and Kids – Are They Safe?

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Nasal spray for baby

No parents like to see their child suffer and it breaks the hearts of the parents when they see their child in intense pain. 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. There are many nasal sprays available in the market that can provide relief from a blocked nose, but are these sprays safe for children?

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, you should not be used for infants unless specifically prescribed by a doctor.

Types of Nasal Sprays

There are three types of nasal sprays that need to be looked at; they are:

1. Saline Nasal Sprays

Saline nasal sprays are made of salt water and do not contain any medications. The salt water helps in loosening the 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 it for topical use with a doctor’s prescription.

3. Steroid Nasal Sprays

Used for allergic rhinitis symptoms and for nasal blocks, steroid nasal sprays work by blocking histamine, and only one dose of the medication will last for 12 hours and are anti-inflammatory.

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, but sometimes they may have a negative effect too; it might worsen the congestion once you stop the medication. This is why it is always said saline nasal spray for babies is the best as they do not contain any medication, but to unblock the nose, salt water should be used.

Nasal aspirator

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 the steroid sprays, and they have been known to affect the growth of a 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 a 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:

For Babies

Babies cannot blow their own noses on their own, hence it is up to the parents to remove the mucus for them. 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 same 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 melting, help your child blow his nose.

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 and nasal sprays for toddlers, there are alternative methods you can use to help your child get rid of congestion:

  1. Steam
    Steam is an age-old remedy for treating nasal congestion. You can use a vaporizer during bedtime or a makeshift sauna in the bathroom. Giving steam will help in loosening the mucus, thereby providing relief from nasal congestion.
  2. 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.
  3. Warm Liquids
    Giving warm liquids like chicken soup also help in decongestion. You can give any warm liquid to your child and he will relish it.

The immune system of babies are not fully developed, 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 to self-medicate your child.

Also Read: Nosebleeds in Kids

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