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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Nasal Irrigations

Asthma is often accompanied by inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. Mucus draining down the throat can act as a trigger for wheezing. Nasal irrigations help keep the nose, sinus passages, and throat clear of mucus that may trigger asthma. They also may prevent sinus infections. How nasal irrigations are done depends on the age and comfort of the child. Follow the instructions appropriate for your child's age.

Instructions for Infants

The equipment you need:

  • bulb syringe
  • normal saline solution (see recipe at end of text)
  • plastic dropper.

Put 10 to 20 drops (0.6 to 1 ml) of normal saline in each nostril. Use a bulb syringe to suction out the mucus and saline. Repeat the procedure if necessary.

It is important to clean the bulb syringe daily. To clean it, draw hot soapy water into the syringe, shake, and squeeze. Rinse the bulb syringe thoroughly with clear tap water. Store the syringe with the tip down to drain completely.

Instructions for Young Children

If your child is able to blow his or her nose but needs some coaching and help, use the following method.

The equipment you need:

  • nasal spray bottle
  • normal saline solution (see recipe at end of text)
  • tissues.

Partially fill the nasal spray bottle with normal saline. Gently squeeze the solution into one nostril. Have your child sniff and blow his nose. Repeat with the other nostril.

Instructions for Older Children:

Children that do not need help can try one of the following methods.

The equipment you need:

  • normal saline solution (see recipe at end of text)
  • tissues.

Method 1: Bend over a sink, head down. Place some normal saline into the palm of the hand. Sniff the solution into one nostril and then blow the nose gently. Repeat with the other nostril.

Method 2: Fill a large bulb syringe with normal saline. Lean over a sink with the head down. Insert the syringe tip just inside one nostril and gently squeeze the bulb, releasing the solution into the nose while sniffing. Blow the nose and repeat the process with the other nostril.

Recipe for Normal Saline Solution

It is very important to use fresh normal saline because bacteria can grow in saline and bacteria can cause infections. If you are buying normal saline, buy individual-use packs only. It is cheaper and often more convenient to make a fresh supply of normal saline every day.

To make your own saline solution:
Mix 8 ounces of tap water (1 measuring cup) with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt and a pinch of baking soda.

Keep the saline in a bottle or glass for a maximum of 24 hours. Then throw the solution away, wash the container, and make a new solution.

Written by the Asthma Task Force at The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems