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Your child has been having difficulty breathing and their nose is always stuffy. You don’t think they have a cold, but what else might be causing problems? Today we’ll cover a few of the issues any child over the age of 1 might be facing and how you might be able to get rid of their stuffy nose.

What causes a stuffy nose? Is it allergies?

A possible cause of your child’s blocked nose is the same thing that may be blocking yours: allergies. The Charlotte region is known for its high levels of allergens, including grass pollen, tree pollen, and ragweed. Other year-round allergens include dust mites, mold, and dog and cat dander.

Kids don't have stuffy noses when they get allergy treatment.

A simple first step is to try some commonly used, safe, over-the-counter antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Make sure you follow the instructions on the package, as dosages will differ based your child’s age. If there is no improvement, a simple skin test by one of our doctors may uncover what your child is allergic to, as well as the severity of their allergies. These tests are typically not performed on children under the age of 5 or 6, however, as their immune systems are still developing.

Once a test is done, your child’s doctor will then be able to help develop a treatment program best suited to your child’s needs. This may include over-the-counter medicines, prescription medicines, or immunotherapy, which is usually in the form of allergy shots.

Is it the adenoids?

Sometimes, your child’s adenoids become enlarged. The adenoids are part of the immune system, but have a limited role. Enlarged adenoids may cause snoring, restless sleep, a runny nose, irritable behavior, nasal obstruction, and congestion.

Bobby Silver, MD

Enlarged adenoids can be removed through surgery, with or without a tonsillectomy. Their removal can help your child breathe easier, sleep easier, snore less, and help them be in a better mood. And while the adenoids are a part of the immune system, their removal won’t affect your child’s health. In fact, it may reduce the frequency of illness in some children.

“I am frequently amazed at how adenoidectomy, a relatively minor procedure, can dramatically improve the quality of life for a child,” CEENTA ENT doctor J. Robert Silver, MD, said.

Is it a deviated septum?

In a small number of cases, your child may have a deviated septum. The septum is the wall, made of bone and cartilage, running between the two halves of the nose. It is supposed to run straight down the center of the nose. When it deviates, it can block one side of the nose and reduce airflow. The septum can be deviated at birth, or it can become deviated from an injury.

A deviated septum may cause breathing problems or nasal discharge. Often, the symptoms are worse on one side of the nose. In some cases, the improper drainage caused by a deviated septum can contribute to repeated sinus infections.

If your child does have a deviated septum, your doctor may consider nasal sprays or decongestants. Antihistamines may be considered if your child also has allergies.

Surgery is rarely considered for a deviated septum in a child, Dr. Silver said. However, if symptoms persist, this surgery can be safely done with select patients.

While there are several possible causes for your child’s blocked nose, rest assured that CEENTA’s doctors are available to care for all of them.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with Dr. Silver or any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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