[Toddler / 2-Year Old] Ongoing Nasal Breathing Issues & Constant Colds

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Hello, very distraught dad here. What I'm about to post is exactly the same as I've put on NetMums drop-in, but I did a quick Google search for more specific ENT forums and this site came up. My hope is that it is frequented by experienced people or health care professionals who might offer us some advice. Here goes:

Our son turns 2-years old in a month and has never slept through the night. He wakes sometimes as often as 7 times, requiring nursing back to sleep. No other method provides him comfort and this has been out of necessity. He was seen by paediatricians during 3-night stay in hospital when he was delivered by elective C-section, and confident midwives could not settle him. Only method that worked was pink sugar water, and only for 5~ minutes before unsettling badly.

After over a year of battling with GPs about constant colds and infections (7+ weeks of same cold, 1 week reprieve, repeat) he was referred to ENT, examined, and decided his adenoids were severely enlarged and must come out. Tonsils would be considered in theatre. He had a tonsilectomy in July this year, the Dr. switched his diagnosis in theatre apparently - we were told he had a bifid uvula and that this would increase the risks, but the doctor knew about that before doing the surgery so we were blindsided by the switch. Our son was discharged from ENTs care the next day and sent home...

After he recovered his apetite did seem to improve, and perhaps his breathing, but then again the colder months had gone... late September and since returning to nursery (3 hours Mon & Fri morning only) he is back to coming home with a cold and we are right back where we started.

He cannot breath during the day, and especially not while laying down at night. We are up multiple times readjusting him (pillows, wedgehog, anti-allergenics, humidifiers, vickes vapour plugs - we have tried EVERYTHING over the last 2~ years). We are desperate to resolve this now for his sake and ours. I cannot describe just how bad his breathing is, it's like a middle-aged man snoring, not a 2-year old. VERY OCCASSIONALY he will breath through his mouth and all sound goes away and he's sleeping soundly, but this is so rare - it seems like he doesn't know how to do this in his sleep.

We'll take him to the GP again tomorrow but we feel as though we have just got off the merry-go-round and are about to get back on the exact same ride. He cannot be put through another year of this. Is this abnormal (it feels like it is to me) and we're beginning to think that he shouldn't even go to nursery anymore as it just seems to be exposing him to colds INSTANTLY that last weeks on end. All we want to do is give him a fighting chance to sleep - even waking 2 or 3 times would be nirvana for all of us.

His breathing is even effecting his day-time play at the moment as he is constantly mouth-breathing / catching his breath with this latest cold.

Any advice and information is very much appreciated,


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  • Posted


    Sorry to hear you are dealing with a little guy who's having trouble sleeping/breathing. 

    I am not an expert, but I am a mom...

    My youngest son was a terrible sleeper as a baby and could never settle. Always up and always wanted to nurse back to sleep. Exhausting. He did not have breathing issues, but very hard to settle. Two things that helped him: chamomile tea and really high quality probioitics that I gave to him religiously. Chamomile tea worked in a pinch to relax him. The probiotics turned everything around for him. He became a different person in a good way. (look on Chris Kresser's site if you want recommendations on probiotics for kids. Young children need different strains than adults.) This can also help strengthen the immune system so he doesn't catch every cold/flu that goes around.

    Another idea: Get everything away from him that has a fragrance. Some of us are sensitive to fragrance and he may be reacting to it. Use unscented clothing detergent. Don't use fabric softener. You may need to wash his clothing several times to get the scents out. Some fleece clothes/blankets will hang out to fabric softener forever. Stop using regular cleaners (look up natural cleaners on the internet). The soap you wash him with. The soap you use on your hands. Sprays, plug ins, scented candles. Mom + dad's perfume, cologne, etc. Until you start to try to get rid of it, you don't realize the cloud of fragrances we normally live in.

    Another thought is to ask for a sleep study (an over night stay at a hospital to evaluate how your child is breathing while sleeping). Maybe you've already done this?

    If you feel stuck with your doctors, look at https://chriskresser.com[/b]/ and https://epidemicanswers.org/  - you might come up with some other ways to look at the situation.

    Good luck!

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  • Posted

    I felt this was too important not to creep downstairs to the PC to post at 4AM... I just woke up to answer natures call and realised I could not hear a sound over the video monitor, or when passing his door... fearing the worst with obstructed airways I went in to investigate.

    As I got into his bedroom I could hear him breathing steadily (in and out within a second, maybe a bit rapid but probably normal), but otherwise he was breathing through his nose without much noise (as I write this I should probably note that the noise has just steadilly worsened and he does sound as though he'll wake as per usual in a moment).

    But my main point is that this surelly cannot be mucus if improved so drastically by his position. He's laying on his side in a sort of fetal recovery position. His back is running parallel along the edge of his pillow, with his neck arched backwards at an extreme angle (close to 90 degrees!), and elevated slightly upwards on his pillow (plus wedgehog under mattress). His knees are almost tucked up into his chest with feet pointing slightly backwards. I know the position of his head is known to open up the aiways, but with the level of sound I feel like it's a complete de-obstruction and that if there was mucus there would be some audible resistance (which there wasn't before he shifted a moment ago). It would explain why the aspirator achieves nothing (to answer the question about nasal drops from a different forum - we use Sterimar spray - same sort of solution, delivered more aggressively I suppose - we only get this out for him AFTER it gets bad, maybe we should use it more pro-actively at first sign of trouble...).

    So at this point I'm thinking it must be his adenoids - we'll surely be in contact with the ENT team, but I just wish we had more answers on what could be inflamming them so badly and how can we help him to achieve his current level of comfort right now and maintain it throughout the night...

    Anyway, very tired daddy creeping back to bed for 2 more hours (hopefully!!!).

    PS: Thanks Sarah, we'll consider that and make some changes to see if it makes a gradual difference, doesn't hurt to try anything at this point.

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  • Posted

    Hi LBhoward,

    Realise this is an old post and I hope your little one is doing better now.

    Did you ever get to the bottom of it? We are going through the same thing maybe not quite as bad, but seems like a constant blocked nose especially at night with loud breathing, saline is only thing that helps but can't constantly give that. The loud breathing and congestion wakes him and notice he wakes when he can't properly draw air through his nose.

    Thanks Dave

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