What Causes Blocked Nose in a Baby and Small Child?

1. Nasal Congestion

A common cause of blocked nose in a baby is an infection or allergy resulting in nasal congestion with purulent or watery discharge.

2. Enlarged Adenoid Glands

Adenoid glands (pharyngeal tonsils) are located in the roof of the throat, behind the nose. They usually start to shrink after about age 5 and usually disappear until teenage years. Enlarged adenoid glands (adenoids) can be present from birth or can become temporary enlarged during an infection (adenoiditis), especially in early childhood. Symptoms are breathing through the mouth, snoring, difficult swallowing and throaty voice. When there is no infection, there is also no nasal discharge. A common complications are sinusitis and infection of the middle ear. If problems are constant, adenoids should be surgically removed (adenoidectomy). Sometimes adenoids are enlarged from no obvious reason and often shrink without treatment so pediatrician should be consulted about removal.

3. Inborn Defects of Nasal Cavity

Deviated septum, cleft lip with cleft palate and other inborn errors may block the nose partially or completely. Surgical correction of cleft lip is usually performed between 3 and 6 months, and cleft palate between 12 and 14 months (1).

4. Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (mucoviscidosis) is a genetic disorders of mucus affecting sweat and mucous glands resulting in production of thick mucus in gastrointestinal, reproductive and respiratory organs, including the nose. Impaired growth, diarrhea, frequent respiratory infections with cough and blocked nose with thick discharge are main symptoms. Diagnosis is with a sweat test and genetic testing. Therapy is mainly with antibiotics and special breathing therapy to help dislodge excessive mucus.

Related Articles:


  1. Surgery of cleft lip and cleft palate  (surgery.med.nyu.edu)
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