What is Nasal Congestion?
Nasal congestion is the blockage of the
nasal passages usually due to membranes
lining the nose becoming swollen from
inflamed blood vessels. It is also known as
nasal blockage, nasal obstruction,
blocked nose, runny nose,
stuffy nose, or stuffed up nose.
Nasal congestion in an infant in the
first few months of life can interfere with
breastfeeding and cause life-threatening
Nasal congestion in older children and
adolescents is often just an annoyance but
can cause other difficulties.
What are the causes of Nasal Congestion?
► Common cold or influenza, bacterial infections
► Hay fever, allergic reaction to pollen or grass
Reaction to medication
► Sinusitis or sinus infection
-the nasal discharge may be thick and
discolored yellow, brown, or green
► If the body is in a position where a lot of
blood enters the head (e.g. upside down, head
the blood vessels in the nasal passage may
► Small objects in the nostril (especially in
► Nasal sprays: using drops containing
vasoconstrictors for more than 3 days in a
row may cause nasal discharge to come back
► Many women suffer from nasal congestion
during pregnancy due to the increased amount
of blood flowing through
First line Defense: Myth or Fact?
Myth #1: I need a medicine if my child has nasal congestion
False. Most kids with nasal congestion
will either have a cold (virus) or
A cold: is when your child has a
viral infection in the nose. The body
quickly fights this infection off with its
own defense system. The most important part
of this defense is sending more blood to the
nose which causes swelling and congestion in
the nose. This process is helpful and
essential. Interfering with this protective
process will just make it more difficult for
your child to get well.
Myth #2: If the nasal drainage is a
certain color then I need antibiotics?
False. Many people incorrectly believe
that green or yellow nasal discharge means
that your child has a bacterial sinus
infection and needs an antibiotic. This
simply is not true. Many people think that a
green or yellow nasal discharge means a
bacterial infection, which requires
This is NOT true. Colds will often begin
with a clear nasal discharge, but after
several days it usually turns creamy yellow
or green. Colds are caused by
viruses, and antibiotics will not help.
A green or yellow nasal discharge is not a
sign that you need antibiotics ;so; There is
between the color of discharge and the need
Myth #3: Over the counter medication are
False. Most of these medications are not
safe. In rare cases these medications have
even been associated with stroke in
other nasal congestants have even been
removed as OTC medications because they so
closely resemble methamphetamines that
people can easily convert them to the these
dangerous and addictive drugs in their
kitchen. Further the FDA recently removed
the indication for children because not only
are they dangerous, but there is no evidence
that they are helpful. Never give these
medication to your children.
Myth#4: Nasal congestion caused by
allergies needs medication
False. Your child does not need a
medication, your child needs the allergens
removed. Start by removing cigarette smoke
and animals from your home and all
environments where your child is (like your
car, grandma's house, etc.) If this does not
help then read more in my section on
allergies. Avoid anti-histamines if at all
possible. These will make your child sleepy
and only treat the symptoms - not the cause.
Fact #1: A cool mist humidifier is
True. A cool mist humidifier especially
in dry climates is very helpful. This has
absolutely no adverse effects and it helps
keep the nose moist which allows the normal
nasal drainage to do just that - drain.
Also; using a Saline drops is very helpful to
suck the swollen of the nostril cells and
so facilitate a natural drainage.
Fact #2: Nasal suction is helpful.
True. The congestion needs to come
out. In older children this can be
accomplished by simply having your child
blow their nose. In smaller children it may
require using a bulb suction device. This
will be particularly helpful before feeding
and before sleeping.
Fact #3: Nasal congestion is good
This should be obvious by now. Nasal
congestion is what the body does to protect
itself and heal itself in the setting of a
cold. Interfering with this process will not
only prevent the body from doing what it
does best but may also be dangerous