Child health – Sneezes and blocked noses

Q: My four month old has constant sneezes and what seems like a blocked nose, particularly at 3am when it gets very bad. It is not runny at all , but seems to be his sinus? I am putting decongestant drop’s on his sheet but this has now been going on for four weeks… I am not sure what to do.

Answer by Dr Clare Heggie

Sorry to hear that your baby has been having lots of trouble with a blocked nose and sneezing.  This is very common in babies up to the age of 6 months due to their tiny nasal passages and is often called 'the snuffles'.  It is not usually due to any kind of infection but it may be made worse by a cold or other virus. 

He’s also at an age where he may start to get symptoms of teething (although teeth are unlikely to appear before six months).  Often teething babies have a runny / blocked nose and excess mucus as well as signs such as increased saliva, constant chewing on things and pink cheeks.   Some normal babies / children just have more mucus than others and always seem to need their noses wiping!  If this does not bother the child at all then there would be nothing more to do other than keeping lots of tissues handy. 

It sounds as though he is particularly bothered at night (although he could be waking for other reasons such as wanting to feed if he is growing very quickly) and you are doing the right thing by using the decongestant drops (I assume you are talking about aromatic oil drops such as 'Karvol' or 'Olbas oil').  You can also buy vapourisers containing aromatic oils that plug into the wall and deliver a constant stream of vapour throughout the night. Another thing that works to temporarily clear a blocked nose is saline nose drops (useful for the middle of the night) which you can buy from the pharmacy.  Keeping the air in his room humid (eg by putting wet flannels on the radiator) is important too. 

Obviously, if things do not improve in time or he develops a temperature for more than a couple of days you should take him down to the GP for a check-up to make sure he hasn't got a throat or ear infection or possibly an allergy (if it continues for several months and you or his Dad suffer from lots of allergies or asthma).

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