Can Children Use Nasal Irrigation?

People fear because of the unknown
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Patients often ask me: “how old should my children be before they can use nasal irrigation?” I usually recommend them that as long as their children can communicate, willing to try, and accept the idea, even kindergarten children can use nasal irrigation. At the annual ENT(Otolaryngology) Conference last year, while I was presenting my therapy research report on successful treatment of chronic sinusitis using pulsatile warm saline nasal irrigation, I mentioned that among my patients, the youngest is a three-year-old. A medical professor commented that he could not believe children that young would use nasal irrigation.

When I see child patients with runny nose in the clinic, I often encourage them to try to use nasal irrigation to wash out the mucus instead of taking antibiotics. Normal in the clinic, if they are discharging patients with a small nose, I often encourage them to try to wash the nose will be pus thermohaline nose clean, you can eat some antibiotics. Some parents would say their children are too young and don’t know how to use nasal irrigation or they would nervously watch their babies, under the nurses’ guidance, wash out large amount of pus and snot. Many parents are surprised at their children’s capability. One mother even told me that she dares not to try, but her child feel so comfortable during and after using nasal irrigation. Some parents personally try first and after they feel safe and comfortable, they encourage their children to use.

This morning, a mother took her two kindergarten children to the clinic. As the little sister sat nervously on the examination chair, you could easily tell that this is her first time to an ENT clinic. It is understandable, that going to an unfamiliar clinic, and seeing unknown machines and instruments, anxiety is quite normal. However as I explained the examination and treatment using baby talk, and let her feel the spray and suction, her nervous expression instantly disappeared. When I finished the treatment, the mother was stunned and asked me how could the children be so happy when seeing a doctor? Isn’t it scary to see ENT?

People fear because of the unknown

Many people are nervous when they go to new places, because they don’t know what is going to happen, but after a couple months, you know the people and the surroundings, and you would no feel nervous anymore. Nowadays many parents take their children to play in the swimming pool at young age, as the children become familiar to water, they no longer feel nervous in water and could learn to swim much faster. This is not that much different from nasal irrigation for children. After good communication, proper guidance and timely encouragement, many three-year-olds can comfortably use pulsatile nasal irrigation to clean their nasal cavity. The proper and consistent use of pulsatile nasal irrigation can effectively prevent and treat common cold and sinusitis, and reduce the use of many antibiotics. So I suggest that parents should first try using pulsatile nasal irrigation, experience the feel of it and then encourage your children to use it. In fact, you will find that many children can and will use pulsatile nasal irrigation.

Shyhung Clinic, Dr. Tseng Hung-cheng