How to Relieve Nasal Congestion in Kids

Congestion in kids has many possible causes, including exposure to environmental irritants, allergies, viral and bacterial infections and changes in humidity levels. In most cases, the congestion is temporary and treatable with home remedies that help ensure your child is able to eat, sleep and play normally until the cause of the symptom is eliminated. Long-term congestion, however, is a more serious problem that can interfere with speech and hearing. Consult your doctor if your child's congestion fails to clear up after several weeks of home treatment -- and before giving your child medication of any kind.

A young girl is blowing her nose. (Image: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Use a humidifier inside your child's room at night to soothe his irritated nasal passages and break up thick mucus that may be interfering with sleeping or eating.

Step 2

Make saline nasal drops by mixing 1/4 tsp. of table salt with 1/2 cup of warm water. Add a pinch of baking soda to reduce burning. Place two to three drops of the saline solution in your child's congested nostrils several times every day until symptoms clear. Commercial saline drops are also available.

Step 3

Run your shower on hot to steam up your bathroom, close the door and sit inside the steam with your child for 20 to 25 minutes to break up nasal congestion. Never leave your child alone in a hot bathroom or around hot water.

Step 4

Suck mucus out of the nose of younger children with a rubber bulb syringe. Until your child is old enough to blow her nose, congestion must be sucked out to enable free breathing.

Step 5

Close your car and home windows to relieve nasal congestion caused by allergies to pollen, and install a HEPA air filter to catch other environmental irritants and allergens, such as dust and pet dander.

Things You'll Need

  • Table salt

  • Measuring spoon

  • Baking soda

  • Rubber bulb syringe

  • HEPA air filter


Prescription allergy medications, decongestants or surgery may be necessary to relieve chronic nasal congestion, and a course of antibiotics is required if your child develops symptoms of a sinus infection, such as a green nasal discharge, headache or fever.

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