How to Administer Nasal Spray

Follow these step-by-step instructions for using nasal spray with your child.

Nasal congestion can be a symptom of the common cold, allergies, or weather changes when warm, moist summer air is replaced by cool, dry fall air. A basic saline nasal spray is highly effective in treating stuffy noses. Over-the-counter nasal sprays are composed of a basic saltwater solution designed to moisturize dry nasal passages and loosen excess mucus blocking the nasal passage, which makes breathing through the nose difficult. Most saline nasal sprays can be given every four to six hours as needed. Always consult with the pediatrician before administering medication of any kind.

How to Administer Nasal Spray to Infants

Because an infant is unable to blow her nose, parents have to remove the excess mucus with the careful use of a nasal aspirator or suction bulb. Nasal aspirators are available at pharmacies, drugstores, or supermarkets. Follow these steps for spraying nasal spray in infants:

  1. Make sure to have a nasal spray, aspirator (suction bulb), small towel, and tissues on hand.
  2. Administering the spray and suctioning out excess mucus will be easier if you have two free hands. Lay the baby in your lap, with her head resting gently on your knees and her feet pointed toward your waist.
  3. Gently spray one or two nasal drops in one nostril and allow a few seconds for the solution to moisturize the nasal passage and loosen the excess mucus.
  4. With one finger, gently close off the opposite nasal passage while suctioning the drops and mucus out of the other nostril with a fully compressed suction bulb.
  5. Squirt the contents of the aspirator into the towel. Use a tissue to wipe any drainage from the nose or face.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 on the opposite nostril.
  7. Avoid touching the nasal spray applicator to your baby's nose to prevent the spread of germs.

How to Administer Nasal Spray to Older Children

Some children might not like having liquid squirted into the nose. Because the nasal passage connects to the throat, there is a tendency for the saline solution to drip down the back of the throat. Follow these guidelines for spraying nasal spray in older children:

  1. Hold your sitting child and support him with one arm. Use the other arm to squirt the nasal drops.
  2. Have your child tilt his head back slightly.
  3. As your child is taking in a breath, administer one saline nasal dose to each nostril.
  4. When you administer the nasal spray, avoid touching the dropper to the nose to avoid the risk of spreading infection.
  5. After the spray has had time to moisten the nasal passage and loosen excess mucus, help your child gently blow his nose to remove mucus.

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