Baby Ear, Nose & Throat Health : How to Clean Out Mucus From a Baby's Lungs
How to Thin Nasal Mucus
A stuffy or congested nose can really put a damper on your day. While thick nasal mucus can be a symptom of many illnesses, you don’t have to live with a clogged nose. Hot drinks, steamy showers, and nasal rinses can loosen up the mucus in your nose so that you can breathe clearly again. Don’t forget to take medication to help treat the cause of the mucus. If things don’t improve after a few days, see your doctor for professional treatment.
Clearing Your Nose
Drink plenty of water.Staying hydrated will loosen up your mucus and prevent it from drying out. Drink water throughout the day to help break up thick mucus. Adults should drink 2 liters (0.44 imp gal; 0.53 US gal) a day while children need between 1–1.5 liters (0.22–0.33 imp gal; 0.26–0.40 US gal).
- A good guideline is to drink 8 glasses a day, each containing 8 ounces (230 g) of water.
Consume hot liquids for temporary relief.Hot liquids, like tea and soup, can help loosen up thick mucus and keep your nose clear for up to 30 minutes. Some great hot foods and drinks include:
- Chicken soup
- Hot water and lemon
Take a hot shower to breathe in the steam.Steam can make it much easier for you to breathe. Take a hot shower and let the steam fill the room. This will loosen up the mucus in your nose and make it easier to breathe for a short period afterwards.
- If you have a facial steamer, add water and turn it on. Hold your face over the steam and breathe it in to get the same effect.
Use a humidifier in dry areas.Dry air can cause the mucus to thicken and clog your nose. A humidifier will add moisture to the air. When you breathe in the humid air, it will gently loosen up the mucus in your nose. Purchase a humidifier at an electronics store, pharmacy or drug store, or online.
Rinse out your nostrils using a saline solution.Saline nasal rinses can flush out the mucus from your nose. Buy saline solutions over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. Most with come with a rubber bulb syringe to apply them. Rinse your nose once or twice a day.
- To do a nasal rinse, place the tip of the syringe in the solution and squeeze the bulb to draw it up.
- Lean forward over a sink and tilt your head to the left. This will prevent the solution from entering your ears.
- Place the tip of the syringe into your right nostril. Slowly squeeze the bulb. The solution will shoot up your right nostril and come out your left nostril. Breathe through your mouth as you do this. If you feel the solution entering your throat or ears, tilt your head until it comes out your nose.
- Repeat this process with the left nostril. Afterwards, blow your nose to get rid of any remaining solution.
Blow your nose 1 nostril at a time once the mucus is loosened.Blowing too hard may actually worsen thick mucus. Instead, wait until your mucus is thin and watery. With a tissue, blow each nostril gently, 1 at a time.
- Be cautious because blowing your nose may lead to a nose bleed. If your nose does bleed, take a couple of days off from blowing it to allow your mucus membranes to heal.
Treating Common Causes
Take an over-the-counter antihistamine if you have allergies.Sneezing, itchy eyes, or a runny nose may be signs of a seasonal allergy. If your allergies are to blame for your congestion, an antihistamine can clear up the symptoms. Some common antihistamines include Benadryl, Tavist, and Claritin.
- When taking an antihistamine, follow the instructions on the label carefully. Do not take more than the recommended dose.
- Drowsiness is a common side effect of antihistamines.
- If you're uncertain which medication or brand is right for you, talk to a pharmacist or call your doctor for a recommendation.
Use a decongestant if you are congested.A decongestant can help loosen up the mucus in your nose and throat. This is a good choice if congestion is your only symptom. Buy over-the-counter decongestants at a pharmacy. Follow the instructions on the label for dosage. Common ones include Sudafed and Contac.
- Side effects of nasal decongestants include trouble falling asleep, anxiety, dizziness, and tremors. Sometimes, your congestion may return once you stop taking the medication.
- Read the precautions on the package. Do not use a decongestant if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma because decongestants can worsen these conditions.
Use a combination of antihistamines and decongestants for a cold.If your thick mucus is the result of a cold with multiple symptoms (such as sneezing, runny nose, and cough), try a medication that contains both an antihistamine and decongestant. Side effects can include drowsiness, anxiety, dizziness, or a racing pulse. They include:
- Advil Cold and Sinus
- Sudafed Plus
Take an over-the-counter expectorant if you have a chesty cough.If you have a wet cough or if mucus drips down your throat, an expectorant can help break up the mucus. Some common expectorants include Mucinex and Robitussin Mucus and Chest Congestion.
- Follow the instructions on the label for dosage information. Always check with a doctor before taking more than 1 type of over-the-counter medication.
Apply a nasal spray to loosen up a stuffy nose.Nasal sprays deliver medicine directly to your nostrils. They can provide immediate relief for a stuffy nose. Over-the-counter nasal sprays typically contain decongestants, steroids, or other medications.
- To use a spray, place the tip in 1 nostril. Close the other nostril with your finger. Breathe in slowly as you press down on the cap. The solution will enter your nose. Repeat with the other nostril.
- Common brands of over-the-counter nasal sprays include Afrin, Dristan, and Neo-Synephrine.
- Keep in mind that you should only use nasal sprays for a short period of time because they can cause rebound swelling of the tissues after frequent use.
Try saline nasal sprays to thin nasal mucus.You can use saline nasal sprays for as long as you need to because these do not contain any medicine. They are simply made up of saline solution, which helps to loosen and thin out mucus without drying out your nasal passages.
Visiting the Doctor
See your doctor if your symptoms worsen.In most cases, a stuffy nose or thick nasal mucus can be treated at home. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days, see a doctor. Visit the doctor if you develop:
- A fever
- Yellow or green mucus
- Pain in your sinuses around your nose, cheekbones, and forehead.
- Blood in your mucus
Undergo tests for viral and bacterial infections.Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms. They may swab your nose and throat to test to see if you have a viral infection like the flu or a bacterial infection.
- If your doctor thinks an allergy is to blame, they may do a blood test or a skin prick test.
Take medication according to your doctor’s instructions.If your doctor determines that you have a bacterial infection, they may prescribe you an antibiotic. If you have a virus, they may give you antiviral drugs. If you have allergies, you may receive an antihistamine.
- Follow the instructions on the label of the medication for taking it.
- Get a diagnosis from your doctor and follow their instructions.
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