Rx For Infant Colds
At some point in their lives, everyone will suffer from a bout with the common cold. Babies are especially susceptible because their immune systems are not fully developed. In fact, colds are important for babies because they help their immune systems to develop and grow stronger. Without colds, a baby might be exposed to something far more dangerous before it's immune system is strong enough to deal with it. It is common for babies to have six or more colds in their first year of life.
A cold is actually caused by a group of over 200 viruses known as rhinoviruses (from the Greek word "rhino" meaning "nose"). As the name suggests, these viruses attack the upper respiratory system, incubating for as long as 16 days before symptoms appear. Although there is no 'cure' for the common cold, the symptoms are easily managed, and in a week or so, it will run it's course, doing no permanent damage. Colds are seldom life-threatening, and only a real health concern for the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
For babies, the most problematic symptom is nasal congestion. This is because until they are around 6 months old, babies have a bias towards breathing through their noses. When the nasal passages get restricted by excess mucous build-up, they have a harder time breathing. While this may help to make their lungs stronger, it is very uncomfortable for the baby, so it is desirable to clear up the blocked sinuses. This is best done with a nose aspirator designed for babies.
There are several types of nose aspirator available. The most basic type of nose aspirator is the bulb-syringe. It is just a rubber bulb with a nozzle. To use, just squeeze the bulb and hold the pressure. Insert the nozzle gently into one of the baby's nostrils, and slowly release pressure on the bulb. This creates a mild vacuum that sucks the mucous from the baby's nose into the bulb. Then, you empty the bulb contents, and repeat the process for the other nostril. The drawback to this type of nose aspirator is that it cannot be disassembled for thorough cleaning and sterilization.
The next type of nose aspirator is a manually-operated model. This consists of a nozzle attached to a tube that runs to a reservoir. The reservoir contains a biological micro-filter that keeps anything from escaping, even virus spores. There is another tube that runs to a mouth piece. To use this unit, place the nozzle gently into one of the baby's nostrils, place the mouth piece into your mouth and apply suction. This creates a vacuum that draws the mucous into the reservoir. The filter protects you from contamination. Repeat for the other nostril. These units can be disassembled for cleaning and sterilization, and the filters are replaceable.
A similar type is the battery-operated nose aspirator. In operation and construction, it is very similar to the manual units. The difference is that vacuum is supplied by a battery-operated compressor, rather than manually. Many people are more comfortable with this type of nose aspirator.
If you are really into high-tech stuff, there is even a nose aspirator that uses your vacuum cleaner to generate suction (at safe levels, of course...). it is the Arianna Baby Vac, and has gotten very good reviews from many pediatricians.
Whichever nose aspirator you decide to use, always sterilize it completely before, and after each use. Also, you should irrigate the baby's nasal passages with a saline solution prior to using a nose aspirator. This loosens up dried mucous. Dried mucous will hurt when it comes loose, and can damage tender nasal passages.
When used properly, nose aspirators can be great help in managing your baby's symptoms when they get an infant cold.