Causes of Congestion
The causes for nasal congestion can vary. "Viral infections [such as the common cold] are common among children, and infants are susceptible as well," says Dr. Lamenta Conway, a pediatrician with the Sinai Children's Hospital and Access Community Health Network in Chicago.
Acid reflux is another cause, says Dr. Brown. Sinusitis/adenoiditis (secondary bacterial infection) is possible if the nasal discharge is discolored and has been present for more than two weeks straight, he adds. Allergies may be another culprit—especially if the child is over the age of 2.
How long congestion lasts depends on the cause. If it's a typical virus, the symptoms can last for three to seven days, says Dr. Conway. "However, because children are susceptible to viral infections, there may appear to be short intervals between sickness and wellness, as children may have as many as 10 to 12 viral/cold infections per year."
When should parents be concerned? "If a newborn's breathing truly is labored with congestion, if it persists more than six weeks or if a baby under 3 months of age has a fever associated with it," says Dr. Brown.