Physicians generally recommend that nasal mucus be removed when possible in order to avoid infection that can spread to the ears – as well as to reduce your child's discomfort. Infant and newborn nasal congestion is due to the blockage of the nasal passes typically due build-up of mucus or the membranes lining the nose becoming swollen from inflated blood vessels.
It is also known as nasal blockage, nasal obstruction, blocked nose, runny nose, stuffy nose, or stuffed up nose. Nasal congestion can range from a mild annoyance to a life-threatening condition. Newborns can only breathe through the nose (newborns are "distinguish nose breathers"). Infant congestion can interfere with breastfeeding and cause life-threatening respiratory distress. Mucus that remains in the nose for long periods of time can cause sinus infections that can spread to the ears.
The question then is, what is the best method and tool to accomplish this?
Baby nasal aspirators to remove nasal mucus are generally of three types: 1) Bulb syringe 2) Battery-powered and 3) Self-suctioning. The last type is generally considered as the most effective because, by using your own suction, the operator can effectively generate greater and more consistent suction. Self-suctioning type aspirators are designed so that mucus is captured in a receptacle or a filter so that the operator (most often a parent) is not exposed to mucus and germs.
Hospitals send new parents home with traditional bulb-type nasal aspirators, however, they are not necessarily the best tool for the job. The main drawback of the bulb syringe aspirator is that because the bulb is of limited size, it can only generate limited suction. This requires that the bulb be inserted into the nostril of the child repeatedly in order to remove mucus. This is difficult with a child that will inevitably be squirming and can cause damage to the delicate nasal membranes.
We have tested all available battery-operated nasal aspirators on the market today and generally find them to be ineffective for the reason that they do not generate sufficient suction. A battery-powered vacuum pump is not generally strong enough to remove mucus that is deeper inside the sinus cavity, and this is the mucus that is most important to remove.
Baby nasal aspirators that employ self-suctioning have the advantage that the amount of suction that can be generated is limited only by the lung capacity of the operator. Here we would like to address some of the typical concerns that parents have regarding self-suctioning baby nasal aspirators:
Concern: I will catch my child's cold using a self-suctioning aspirator.
Response: Virus and bacteria are water-borne, they can only be spread if they are contained in droplets of water or mucus. Properly designed self-suctioning aspirators are designed specifically to prevent the passage of droplets through the suction tube. In addition, self-suctioning aspirators generally employ filters to catch liquid droplets.
Concern: I will generate too much suction and injure my child
Response: We only need consider the relatively large pressures generated by sneezing, which can exceed velocities of 100 miles per hour. Compared to this the pressure generated by a parent suction is relatively low, on the order of 1 / 10th the velocity and therefore pressure. In other words, the body is designed to withstand and indeed generate significantly more sinus pressure than is created in the nasal suctioning process.