Tis the Season… for stuffy noses, and coughs and dry air. What to do? What to do? Hypertonic saline to the rescue! If you have ever used saline nose sprays or drops, you have used hypertonic saline. It is especially useful for keeping little nasal passages, (or nose holes, as some of my little friends call them), open and free from sticky thick green … secretions.
But another hypertonic saline use is in those nebulizers that we often call the breathing machines for bronchitis, or the baby version, called bronchiolitis. Usually we think of using albuterol, which is an asthma medication, but a recent combination of studies, called a meta-analysis and published in the journal, Pediatrics, hypertonic saline use in nebulizers, did well, also. With cooler weather, the air is dryer, so the little nasal passages dry out, causing secretions to thicken and get “stuck” in the nose and the back of the throat area, contributing to coughs. If they stay there, they can harbor viruses and bacteria and other infections may grow. The small lung passages also are susceptible to thicker secretions.
The idea of using hypertonic saline drops in the nose, or in the nebulizer machine, is to increase the amount of saline into the nasal passages and into the lungs, to keep the secretions thinner so they will move better. I have found many parents who use the saline nose spray and drops (sometimes with every diaper change) have helped the baby be more comfortable. Suctioning is not always necessary, as often there is nothing to suction. Just a few hypertonic saline drops can keep secretions thinner, even in the back of the nasal passages. I’ve also had positive response to the hypertonic saline in the nebulizers. Caution; before using either on your child, check with your doctor. Don’t stop the albuterol without your doctor’s OK. Give that kid a hug, and better breathing, one and all!