With a change in weather and rise in Covid-19 numbers among children in Singapore, chances are you are a worried parent. Especially so, if you’re a new one with a baby in tow. Any sneeze or cough could potentially force you to imagine the worst.
But if you’ve noticed your little one sneezing, wheezing, or coughing, fret not. These are symptoms of chest congestion.
Now, while true chest congestion is characterised by fluid in lungs. If your little one is generally normal – sleeps and eats well – but sounds congested, there is a specific solution to that problem: nebulizer for baby congestion.
They help the baby breath properly and this specific treatment is called nebulisation.
In this article, we will help answer all your doubts about the use of nebulizer for baby congestion and why it is important for you to master this skill – now more than ever.
What Are Nebulizers? Are They Safe For Babies?
Nebulization is a safe treatment usually recommended by your child’s doctor. The frequency of use depends on the severity of the symptoms. Image courtesy: iStock
A nebulizer is a device that warms or otherwise changes a liquid solution into a fine mist that’s easy to inhale. When a baby breathes in the mist from a nebulizer, the medicine can go deep into their lungs where it works to make breathing easier.
Nebulisation is perfectly safe for most children and doctors usually recommend this treatment after they have checked on your baby.
As for how often you can use nebulisers on kids, it depends on the advice of the doctor and the symptoms they spot on the baby. In some occasions, a couple of doses might suffice. But, when chest congestion is severe, nebulisation might have to be more frequent, depending on the severity.
So its always advisable to consult your doctor regarding the dose frequency of the nebulizer.
Nebulizer for Baby Congestion: Medicines That Can be Used
There are two kinds of medicines that can be used in a nebulizer. One is called the non-medicated liquid and the other is called medicated liquid.
While the former helps to moisten mucous membrane, the latter if to treat specific health conditions. Let’s take you through both briefly.
1. Non-Medicated Liquid
When your child has dry nose, his mucous membrane needs to be moistened. In this case, nebulisation can be conducted using a simple saline liquid instead of medicine. This will help to reduce the dryness and discomfort.
2. Medicated Liquid
If your child is suffering from rhinitis, asthma or similar diseases, the doctor may advise nebulisation with medicated liquid. Here are some examples of medications that can be inhaled via a nebulizer.
Antibiotics. Some antibiotics include an aminoglycoside antibiotic tobramycin which is used to treat certain bacterial infections. They are available via nebulizer treatment.
Corticosteroids. These can treat inflammation caused by asthma.
Beta-agonists. These medications include albuterol or levoalbuterol. They’re used to relax the airways and make breathing easier.
Dornase alfa (Pulmozyme). It helps treat cystic fibrosis by loosening thick mucus in the airways.
Nebulizer Vs Inhaler: Which is better?
Now you may wonder which one would be better to buy- a nebulizer or an inhaler. So here’s what you need to know to help you decide.
Doctors usually recommend nebulizer for baby congestion because it is easier for them to use. All they have to do is breathe normally using the device. But nebulizers deliver medications over a course of time, usually 10 to 15 minutes. In this case, your baby is required to cooperate to take the medicine in.
On the other hand, you can carry an inhaler in your pocket or bag. While it can be tricky to use at first, but most people quickly get the hang of it. The best part is it delivers an exact dose of medication.
Should I Buy A Nebulizer For My Baby?
You can buy nebulizers from most major retailers and at drugstores. If your child has a tendency of contracting chest congestion frequently then it is totally worth buying a nebulizer and keeping it with you. But if you don’t want to invest in one, you can always opt for nebulisation in clinics and hospitals.
However, the fact is that having your own nebuliser make you better prepared. Also, in case of repeat administration of the medicine, having a home nebulizer is more affordable. So if you’re considering purchasing one to help your baby breath better in case of chest congestion, these are the options you can consider.
Here are the three main types of nebulisers:
Jet: It uses compressed gas to make an aerosol (tiny particles of medication in the air). It is powered by electricity so not suitable to carry while travelling.
Mesh: Liquid passes through a very fine mesh to form the aerosol. This kind of nebulizer puts out the smallest particles. Mesh nebulizers are supposed to be the most expensive. It is small in size and the fastest medicine dispenser. They come powered via batteries and makes no sound.
Ultrasonic: This makes an aerosol through high-frequency vibrations. The particles are larger than with a jet nebulizer. They are battery operated and yet fast functioning.
Mobile nebulizer: They are small and lightweight in size. They are powered with batteries and can easily be carried anywhere.
Stationary nebulizer: It is usually sturdy and cheap. It is meant to be used inside the house.
Steps To Use A Nebulizer
While using the nebulizer, make sure the face and the mouth of your kid is covered with the mask. | Image courtesy: iStock
Before using a nebulizer, ensure that your hands are clean. Wash them properly with soap and water and then move on to it.
Here’s how to use one:
Choose a comfortable spot with a table or a hard surface.
Next, add the medication to the cup. Read the directions carefully before pouring the medication into the cup.
Now connect one end of the tubing to the cup of medication and the other to the nebulizer.
Then connect the mask or pacifier to the cup.
Hold the mask to your child’s face. Make sure that their nose and mouth are covered while the mask is on.
You’ll know when the treatment is complete when the mist becomes less noticeable and the little cup appears almost dry.
Nebulizer for baby congestion: How to use on babies?
It can be quite a challenge to use a nebulizer on your little ones as they can be quite squirmy. Here are some tips that can help:
Be careful in choosing the time for the nebulizer. For instance, when your baby is more likely to be sleepy and tolerate treatments better. This includes after meals, before a nap, or at bedtime.
Sometimes, your baby may feel irritated and scared by the noise of the nebulizer. So, place it on a towel or rug to reduce noise from the vibrations.
Make your child sit upright in your lap during the treatment. The reason why this posture is preferred is because it helps to deliver more medication throughout the lungs.
You can swaddle your baby if they feel comfortable that way during treatment.
Nebulizer for baby congestion is usually a safe treatment. But, there can be some side effects. For instance:
Your little one can have a dry throat or weird taste in the mouth
In the case of strong medication, your baby might develop a bleeding nose, stomach ache, or dizziness.
It can spread contaminated mist if not properly cleaned between uses.
Bearing all of the above, it is important to take extreme precautions while cleaning a nebulizer. To help you get started, here are a few steps you’ll need to follow:
How To Clean A Nebuliser
Before you begin, ensure that you have soap, water, and clean cloth with you. Once you’ve set up the place where you plan to clean the nebuliser, here are the steps you can follow:
Wash the facial mask and container using a few drops of dish soap and warm water.
Shake off the water and let it dry.
Carry out full disinfection of the nebuliser. Every part of the nebulizer should be immersed in hot water that contains a few drops of vinegar. Let the parts soak for about 60 minutes. Remember to not soak the mask.
After you rinse them, then let them dry.
Make sure there are no water droplets remaining anywhere once you keep the nebulizer away.
Cover the compressor with a clean cloth when you’re not using it.
Wipe it with a clean, damp cloth if necessary.
Remember that nebulizers for baby congestion is a safe treatment. However, it is advisable to always consult your child’s doctor before starting the treatment.
You should also make sure that your baby consumes enough fluids to help loosen the mucus. Take care of their diet because your kids may have a low appetite. But, give them a good dose of nutritious food which will help them recover easily.