Congestion in Children

Congestion in Children

One of the most common paediatric health issues is congestion.

Congestion in children can be caused by a number of factors, including upper respiratory infections and allergies.

Respiratory tract infections and asthma; earaches; sinusitis; gastroesophageal reflux disease; and eczema.

It can also be caused by pressure from the abdominal organs, such as heartburn or appendicitis. 

The most common cause of congestion in children is an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) that’s spread to the chest cavity.

That’s because these infections tend to involve the nose, throat or sinuses, causing the mucus membranes to swell and fill with fluid.

The airway becomes blocked and causes breathing difficulties.

The most common causes of congestion include:
  • Pneumonia – caused by bacteria that enter the body through an infected cut or sore in the skin (such as a cold sore).
    The infection is usually treated with antibiotics, but may require hospitalisation and sometimes surgery to remove infected tissue
  • Chronic bronchitis – caused by inhaling irritant particles such as dust, pollution and smoke
  • Emphysema – caused by a chronic progressive scarring of the lungs that makes them unable to expand normally
  • Croup – caused by inflammation of the trachea, which is the windpipe
  • Tonsillitis – caused by an infection in one or both tonsils
  • Allergies or sinus problems may cause congestion too.

There are a number of treatments for congestion in children.

It includes medications that ease symptoms, decongestants that reduce swelling.

And antihistamines that block histamine reactions to the infection. But in many cases, treatment is far from a cure.

Parents should avoid giving their children cough medicine unless they have a specific medical need to do so.

Even then it’s not recommended given the potential side effects.

Here are some treatments that may help relieve congestion in children:

Treatment 1: Antihistamines, like Benadryl. A single dose of this drug will help many kids who suffer from congestion.

It’s not a cure all, but it can reduce symptoms and make life more comfortable.

The side effects are minimal and the drug tends to work better than other antihistamines in relieving symptoms of congestion

Treatment 2: Antihistamine nasal spray. This is best used when there’s a lot of congestion that won’t go away with one dose of Benadryl.

Children who experience these symptoms for more than two weeks need to try this treatment before switching to the next one, because once it wears off, things could get worse

Treatment 3: Caffeine or decongestant nasal sprays.

These are available over-the-counter and come in prepackaged doses designed for children.

They’re most effective when used at night before bedtime, when your child falls asleep.

There are several ways to treat congestion and help your child breathe easier.

A few things you can try include:

  • Make sure your child’s room is well ventilated.
    Many parents think that a well-ventilated room is enough. But this isn’t true; too much airflow can actually make the issue worse.
    You should open doors, windows, and use fans (you should never use an air conditioner or fan indoors).
  • Clean your child’s nose, throat and ears to prevent buildup of mucus. Use a bulb syringe for this purpose and keep one handy.
    Put one end in each nostril and squeeze gently to clear the airways by pressing out any mucus.
    Pull out the bulb syringe, wipe it clean with alcohol swabs and store it in a cool place.
    So it doesn’t dry out and crack – this will cause more harm than good. Keep one nearby

Please note that regular First Aid and CPR Training is the best way to make sure that you’re prepare in the case of an emergency. Book a course with us!


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