The air we breathe contains a lot of impurities - pollutants, chemical fumes, dust, pollen, mold spores, germs from others coughing. The nose acts as a filter. Anything that the nose recognises shouldn’t be there increases blood flow to the nose causing swelling of the nasal tissues, which stimulates them to produce mucus and causes the person to sneeze. The mucus attempts to flush out the inhaled impurities.
Parents naturally worry when their new born baby’s nose has mucus and it frequently sneezes, but it is not necessarily a sign of illness but a symptom that can be caused by other reasons.
Common reasons for nasal congestion and sneezing in babies include some of the following:
Dry Air: New born babies have tiny nasal passages which causes the natural secretions of the nose to dry out, especially in winter months. This may lead to noisy breathing, nasal discharge and sneezing. In such cases it may be helpful to install vaporisers to increase humidity.
Irritants: Could be on account of wind, dust, cigarette smoke and milk, which frequentlygets into the baby’s nose when it throws up. These cause irritation resulting in a clear nasal discharge. Sneezing is frequently encountered in the new born baby in such situations.
Colds and Influenza: nasal discharge, sneezing and upper respiratory tract infection are frequently found when the new born baby with an immature immune system contracts a cold. They occur as a result of a virus attack and transmitted from the hands of an infected person to the baby’s nose. It is advisable to wash hands before handling a new born baby. Left unchecked it could lead to other secondary bacterial infections
Allergies: Nasal congestion and sneezing may occur in new born babies on account of hay fever, known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It is caused by an allergic reaction to substances in the air, such as pollen that can get into the nose, sinus, throat and eyes as well as mold, animal hair, insect bites and house dust. Avoiding the sources of these allergies is the best recourse but not always possible, in which case the baby has to be given anti histamines.
Enlarged Adenoids: Tonsils and adenoids are glandular tissue at the entrance of breathing passages and a part of the body’s immune system. Sometimes the germs infect them causing them to become sore and swollen. The baby cannot breathe through the nose, and breathes through the mouth instead, which prevents the nose’s immunising function from being effective in fighting infection. The only antidote to this is by surgery.
Foreign bodies : These are items in the nose that are not meant to be there. Infants and toddlers are always curious and avid experimenters, many of them pushing beads, popcorn, toy items, beans and other items into their noses and causing themselves a lot of distress. The best way to avoid such incidents is to keep a close watch and keep such objects out of reach.
Nasal Sprays: Decongestant sprays are not recommended for children under the age of six years. Decongestants are addictive and damage the delicate tissues of a new born baby’s nose and sinuses.
In conclusion, sneezing problems in new born babies occur due to dry air, irritants, colds and influenza, allergies, enlarged adenoids, foreign bodies and nasal sprays.
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