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Hi there this is Dr. Jody Navitsky and I can chat with you today.
I'm sorry your baby is having this problem but it is actually fairly common. There a few non dangerous reasons for this to happen and the most common one is that the nasal openings (the parts you don't see on the inside up top) are quite small and thus any minor obstruction with a piece of mucus or in a dry environment etc...will partially occlude the small hole and make noise. These babies don't have continuous stuffy sounds when they breathe but they can have them more often than not.
This obviously is not a problem that needs to be fixed although you can try cleaning on a regular basis with saline drops and this can keep the small holes clean and the sounds less frequent....as the baby grows the holes grow in diameter and the problem fixes itself.
A variation of this is when not only are the holes small but for some unknown reason the tissues is a bit sensitive and tends to form mucus more often...."rhinitis of infancy" really just means a benign cause for continuous stuffy nose in a baby. These babies really sound snuffy and snorty...all the time, and if you throw a cold on top of that the sounds are very noticeable.
This can be treated well with a steroid nasal spray (similar to what people with allergies use) and usually within the first year it goes away.
And usually doesn't come back.
Because as the nose hole diameters grow things just get more difficult to obstruct with mucus.
I see you are in the chat feel free to interrupt me at any time with any thoughts but I am going to just continue with a few more points...
There are also some babies that have tissue covering part of the upper holes in the nose or all of it, this is actually a condition that needs to be fixed. Usually this is caught at birth when we alternately cover the nasal openings to make sure the other one is open and moving air but sometimes it can be missed,
this would have to be surgically opened although via a small operation.
It is called choanal atresia.
Any questions or thought you may have that would help me more direct information to your babies case specifically?
Thank you for all the information it has helped me understand what is going on
I am still here if you would like to respond. Some details that would be helpful include when you first noticed the noises, whether or not you see actual mucus coming out (having to wipe it a lot),or if the sounds are truly coming from the nose or if they could be coming from below.
There are some stuffy babies that actually have (also a benign problem) tissues under the voice box level that are a bit floppy "laryngomalacia" that can make them very noisy breathers and this frequently is confused with stuffy nose.
How I would go about looking into this is first making sure there is air movement in through both nostrils as this is what you don't want to miss.
It started not long after he was home and i do notice it more when he has a cold. He also is a noisy breather
Then I would start squirting saline up a few times a day (this makes him choke obviously when it goes back to his throat but you just hold him up and he should be able to clear it just fine) and see if this makes a difference or not.
If this makes things better the problem is probably just pure anatomy (small hole openings up top) and saline just helps keep things clean and has no side effects (other than immediate cough to clear his airway) and can be used indefinitely.
If it makes little difference and you feel that both nostrils are in fact open I would bring this up with his doctor to see if they feel that the noises are coming more from the upper airway or from lower....and to consider treatment with whatever they feel appropriate depending on what they find.
As a pedi I do like to know a baby that is inherently stuffy because when they have colds they usually sound horrible and look (mainly sound) much more sick than they are so lots of times they get treatments such as nebulizers etc...that may not be needed just because they sound so horrible.
Thus I would pursue the issue a bit just to make sure his doctor is aware. I'm glad this has been helpful but feel free to come back at a later time if you feel you need any further clarifications or you want to ask me more questions. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!!
Thank you for your advice
You are welcome. I wish you all the best for you and your little one!