Every day, each person’s respiratory tract produces mucus to protect itself from unwanted viruses, bacteria, and other potential health threats. But as WebMD reports, if your child has a cold, the flu, allergies, or other respiratory problems, the mucus can become excessive and cause pain in the sinus passages, ears, or throat.

Children with these problems often suffer from sinus drainage, either in the form of a runny nose or in the form of a post-nasal drip where the mucous travels down their throat and into their stomach, frequently causing problems with nausea or even vomiting.  This can be distressing for your child and frustrating for you to deal with. However, there are a number of ways that you can help your child’s sinus problems right at home, mostly using techniques and ingredients you probably already have around the house.

Use OTC Medications

The Web MD site notes that there are a variety of OTC medications that can help treat this pain and pressure of sinus problems. Among these are antihistamines (such as Benedryl or Zyrtec) to control allergic reactions if that is the cause of your child’s problems. If you suspect that your child might have allergies (especially environmental allergies such as dust, dander, or pollen), it is a good idea to have them tested to find out if this is the problem.

Other medications that can also help include nasal decongestants (like Sudafed) and medications that break up and thin out excess mucous (like Mucinex). However, it is recommended that parents talk to their child’s doctor beforehand about what medications are best for their particular child’s needs.

If, however, the problem is a bacterial sinus infection, the doctor might need to prescribe antibiotics in order to clear the sinuses up.  However, in most cases, these problems are caused by a viral infection and antibiotics will not do your child any good.

Keep the Respiratory Tract Moist

When treating your child’s sinus problems, it is also important to keep the respiratory tract moist.  According to Healthline, there are a number of ways to accomplish this.  These include:

Staying hydrated. Encourage your child as much as possible to drink plenty of water or other clear liquids (as long as they don’t have any caffeine). Staying hydrated will keep the mucous thinner and easier to get out of the sinus tract – and also helps all the body’s systems work better, including its immune system.

Steaming it up. Having a vaporizer or humidifier in the room or going into the bathroom and turning on the shower to get the room steamy. Keeping the air moist will also help to loosen excess mucous and make it easier to get rid of. If your child can tolerate it, adding a few drops of essential oil like eucalyptus or camphor oil can also help to open the respiratory tract and make it easier for your child to breathe.

Applying warm compresses. Laying warm compresses across the forehead or nose and cheeks is also a good way to gently open the sinus passages and keep the tract moisturized as well. Sometimes it is helpful to alternate this with 30 seconds of a cold compress to every three minutes of a warm compress.

Nasal irrigation. There are different methods of nasal irrigation to help moisturize the respiratory tract: a neti pot, bulb syringe, squeeze bottle or even just nasal spray can be used for this purpose. However, if using the pot, syringe, or bottle it is very important that only sterile water be used to avoid the risk of serious sinus infections. You can buy a saline solution at the store or make it yourself at home.

Eat the Right Foods

Diet can also play an important role in keeping your child comfortable during a cold or flu or allergy attack. Healthline reports that the old standby, chicken soup, has actually been proven to help relieve chest congestion, probably because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  The Search Home Remedy site also notes that the use of certain spices, either in the soup or in other foods, can also help to open up the sinus passages and help to clear them out. In particular, black pepper, hot peppers, and hot peppers like jalapenos can help get the nasal passages flowing. However, some children tolerate spicy foods better than others and this may or may not be the right choice for your own child.

In short, postnasal drainage can be a real problem for kids when they come down with a cold or flu or are having problems with their allergies.  However, the good news is that there are a whole variety of ways that parents have at their disposal to help treat this condition and keep their children comfortable during an infection or bad round of allergies.

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