What are the benefits of nasal irrigation for head colds and flu symptoms for children?
|Jaime S. Estrada, RN,BSN, PHN, MSN
Credentialed School Nurse and Associate Professor at National University
About the author: As a school nurse for over 21 years, Mrs. Estrada has provided primary health care to students and parents.
With the flu season quickly approaching, an increase in health office visits and increased absenteeism will keep her busy. Many of the students suffer from nasal and sinus problems and she is constantly educating them on treatment and the need for preventive, proactive health care. The importance of attending school daily cannot be emphasized enough as chronic attendance issues have a major impact on the academic success of the students and having a runny, stuffy nose is not a reason to miss school.
Allergic rhinitis also known as nasal allergies has a huge impact on our society as this creates economic burdens from prescription costs, physician visits, and missed days of school and work. Parents must take time off from their jobs to attend to their children when in fact, missing school for nasal allergies are seldom necessary. In order to prevent absences, it is important to understand how sinuses get clogged. Our noses have two passages that filter the air we breathe. We have bones in our skulls which are air filled cavities called sinuses that drain into these passages lined with mucous membranes. When we have allergies or catch a cold, the mucous membranes become swollen and our sinuses become blocked and cannot drain. Bacteria can grow resulting in inflammation, swelling, stuffiness, pain and pressure. As a result, we develop sinus infections.
Many parents are quick to take their children to the doctor where antibiotics are seldom prescribed or push over the counter medications such as antihistamines and nasal decongestants which can cause side effects such as drowsiness, irritability or dry mouth. Parents of infants and young children with cold or allergy symptoms are encouraged to consult their pediatricians before using any of these products. The FDA recommends that young children should not take many of the commonly used cold and cough medicines. OTC cough suppressant medications are not recommended for use in infants and children as well. Research has shown that the side effects outweigh the benefits.
So how can parents reduce allergens? First, identify the triggers that cause allergies. Using an air conditioner, reducing humidity, vacuuming, and using protective mattresses and pillow covers as well as removing stuffed animals from children’s rooms will decrease symptoms. Nasal irrigation is a proactive approach in preventing allergies. Children with chronic sinus symptoms, nasal allergies, acute sinusitis and colds can benefit from this. The easy to use instructions make nasal irrigation a convenient and safe way to prevent nasal allergies. Many have experienced great success with nasal irrigation and with flu season quickly approaching, this is a more natural approach to prevention.