Welcome to my Ask Andy page! This is your opportunity ask me the burning questions that are on your mind – and they can be about anything you want advice on!

Mandy, 31, from Johannesburg, asks:

Hi Andy, I saw that you’re a qualified midwife so I was wondering if you could help me with something that’s wrong with my baby. She is 8 days old, and is sick. She has a blocked nose and is very stuffy. She sounds congested and I think she has a lung infection (maybe like pneumonia?) because I can hear it is in her lungs. Is there any kind of treatment I can give?

Hi Mandy,

The good thing about babies is that they are fairly ‘easy’ to read. What I mean is, if she is actually sick, she will in all likelihood be displaying an elevated body temperature or fever (usually above 38°C). So, if you haven’t already, then please check her temperature. If such a young baby has a fever of unknown cause, you must take her to your paediatrician immediately.

Now, some other good news is that a blocked nose is extremely common in babies, and I see it with pretty much all young babies that come into my clinic and generally, it is not something to worry about. There are a few things you can do for a blocked nose. I would recommend that you use a saline nose spray (there are a number of options on the market), and ten minutes after using the nose spray, use a nasal aspirator to suck the mucus out. I would also advise you to let her sleep at a 45° angle, to assist the draining of her sinuses. Lastly, a cool-air humidifier can be used on a daily basis (especially in the dry Joburg air) to help keep her airways moistened.

Due to the fact that babies often have a blocked nose, it tends to result in a postnasal drip – and this causes the congested sound in the lungs, as well as a cough. The cough tends to resolve, once you manage the blocked nose. Remember, too, that babies are ‘nose breathers’, so you may find that she doesn’t feed as well as she used to and this is due to the fact that she can’t breathe well. By clearing her nose with nose spray, this can be resolved fairly easily.

I would manage her with my above tips for the next 3 or 4 days, and if you find she isn’t experiencing any kind of relief, it’s always a good idea to have a quick check-up with her paediatrician to ensure there isn’t a different underlying cause to the flu-like symptoms.

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