As parents, we are all too familiar with the sound of our child waking up in the middle of the night complaining of not being able to breathe. Chest congestion is not an illness but is actually a sign of an underlying illness. Accumulated mucus from the nose and throat causes chest congestion. Chest congestions are caused mainly due to viral infections and allergies can also be a part of a severe bacterial infection like pneumonia.
Chest Congestion Symptoms:
- Coughing especially a wet cough
- Irregular or fast breathing
- Wheezing or noisy breathing
- Fever (though not always)
- Poor feeding
- Change in colour of skin (turning pale or blue)
How To Keep Your Kids Comfortable
Humidify the room with steam for babies and steam inhalation for older kids
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The moisture in the air will prevent drying and help break down the mucus secretions so that it can be expelled easily.
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Frequent breastfeeding is recommended for babies below 6 months of age. For kids above 6 months of age, good oral intake with water, clear liquids and milk should be given. Liquids are mucolytics that help in thinning out secretions and are also essential since children with congestion have a tendency to get dehydrated.
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Let the child sleep with head and chest elevated. This angle helps in the drainage of secretions.
Tap the back
Gentle tapping on the back, while the child is lying in a prone position (under parental observation), helps to drain out secretions. The prone position is when one lies flat on the stomach.
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The use of a mucus aspirator can help remove the mucus/snot collected in the nose and prevent it from travelling down to the chest.
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Saltwater gargles in older children help clear the throat and congestion.
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Turmeric milk, ginger honey, apple cider vinegar, onion juice have been used for older children with chest congestion. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this.
When Should You Call The Doctor?
- Fast or irregular breathing
- High-grade fever
- Feeding difficulties
- Reduced urine output
- Skin colour changes
If you see any of the above symptoms, immediately take your child to a doctor.