Know Your Child’s Nose


Know Your Child’s Nose

Know Your Child’s Nose

As long as we can breathe and smell properly with our nose, most of us tend to take it for granted. Only when it gets blocked or injured do we realize its importance. Truth is, giving the functions of the nose and the sophistication with which it carries them out, we should regard it as a vital part of our body.

From the moment we are born the nose carries out its primary function which is breathing.  Although to us this only means the intake and letting out of the air that keeps us alive, how the nose does it is a far more complex matter. First of all, with great efficiency it filters all the air that enters from unseen harmful particles that could be as small as pollen grain. The nose also humidifies this air, adding moisture to it to prevent the lining of the lungs and bronchi from drying up. Another important function of the nose is giving us the ability to smell different odors, good and bad. Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, professor of otorhinolaryngology at the faculty of medicine at Alexandria University, explains, “The sense of smell is present from the minute a baby is born. Day by day, as the baby grows, the sense of smell helps him to distinguish his mother from other people.” Thus, given the beneficiary functions of the nose, it is essential to deal with any problem that arises promptly and efficiently.

Nasal Congestion

This condition is when the membranes lining the nose become swollen from inflamed blood vessels. Dr.Tantawi explains that nasal congestion occurs mainly due to common colds or the flu, sinus infection, and nasal allergies such as hay fever. Nasal congestion reduces the sense of smell and taste as well as forcing the child to breathe through the mouth which causes dryness and increases the risk of mouth and throat infection. Moreover, babies must breathe through the nose as they are not yet able to breathe through the mouth and this, in turn, interferes with nursing and may cause life threatening breathing problems such as suffocation while sleeping. Therefore, this problem must be dealt with promptly.

Dr.Tantawi advises the use of nasal saline to dissolve the mucus as frequently as needed as it has no side effects. Nasal aspirators may also be used to help suck out the mucus.  Dr.Tantawi adds, “Nasal decongestants could also be used to facilitate breathing. However, their use must be stopped within three to four days as they cause side effects such as dryness of the internal lining of the nose. [Your child] may also become dependant on the effect of the decongestant as a means for breathing.”

Nasal Bleeding

Dr.Tantawi explains, “Although nasal bleeding could be due to trauma to the nose, a deviated septum or nasal tumors, the most common cause of bleeding in early childhood is usually of unknown origin. [It] occurs from the blood vessels in the anterior part of the nose and usually stops at the age of puberty.” According to Dr.Tantawi, the first aid treatment of a bleeding nose is applying pressure to its tip using the thumb and the index finger accompanied by tilting the head forwards to prevent the child from swallowing the blood. He adds, “However, if the bleeding is too frequent and interfering with the child’s daily activities, electric or chemical cautery of the bleeding vessels, performed by a physician, is the permanent solution to the problem.”

Nasal Injuries

According to Dr.Tantawi, nasal injury can be due to a direct blow to the nose, the presence of a foreign body in the nostril, nose picking, and nasal fractures or fissures. When there’s a fracture and the nasal bone is displaced, or if there is a manually in-extractable foreign body in the nose, then medical intervention by a physician is necessary. When the injury doesn’t cause any bone trauma, it can be treated by using cold compresses for 24 hours, followed by warm compresses for two to three days and an anti-inflammatory medication.


According to Dr.Tantawi, different colors of mucus may represent different conditions. In the case of nasal allergy, the discharge is clear and watery. This condition is also accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes. When the mucus is yellowish towards greenish in color, this indicates a sinus infection.