Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on teenager mood swings and babies' blocked noses

Q. My teenage daughter is studying for the Leaving Cert and seems to be in a bad mood most of the time. 

She barely talks to me or her dad and spends hours in her room studying. 

I don’t want to upset her, but I am worried she is either depressed or being bullied. What do you suggest?

A. With rapid physical and deep emotional changes, adolescence is not an easy time in life. 

Add the stress of exams into the mix and it’s no wonder young people may feel under a lot of pressure and their parents worry.

The Leaving Cert can be particularly stressful with anxieties over getting into a particular course or placement after secondary school based on exam results. 

Teenagers may also feel a strong need for independence and be reluctant to confide in their parents which is entirely normal. 

Some teenagers find adolescence and secondary school very hard and may experience anxiety or depression and lack of social involvement.

Letting your daughter know you are available and happy to talk to her about any worries she is having, as well as providing a supportive environment for her are helpful. 

It is important to try to maintain a good relationship with her through this time of stress so that if needs be she feels she can talk to you.

Bullying is often a concern. If you feel that your child is no longer spending time with friends and is spending more time alone it can be a good idea to approach the school guidance counsellor to get a real idea of how your daughter is coping at school.

In the age of smart phones and tablets, cyber bullying can be a real and insidious, where young people are subjected to bullying through social media. 

Sometimes it can be necessary to limit children’s activity online if you feel that this may be an issue. 

Discussing the safe use of social media with your daughter and encouraging her to share any issues she is experiencing may be necessary.

If your daughter is very down and upset on a regular basis she may be depressed and not coping well with her current situation. 

If you think she may be suffering from depression it is important to talk to your family GP along with your daughter and to engage with her school counsellor to help find solutions.

Q. My four-month-old baby seems to have a blocked nose. She is happy, doesn’t have a temperature and appears to be comfortable but I am worried. What should I do?

Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on teenager mood swings and babies' blocked noses

A. It is very common for young babies to have a blocked nose because of collections of mucus which young babies may have difficulty in clearing. 

This may result in your baby sounding ‘snuffly’ or caught up. 

This should not be an issue so long as your baby is in good form, well, and feeding normally.

Some babies may have difficulty in feeding if they cannot breathe out of their noses while on the breast or taking a bottle. 

Often there is no need to intervene if your baby is well but is suffering with a blocked nose. 

It will clear on its own entirely — mostly within a week. Your baby should also be less likely to have these snuffles as she grows and adapts to breathing and clearing mucus from her nose.

Dry air or a cold can also cause your baby to have a blocked nose as the lining of the nose swells.

Steam can help to clear a blocked nose which can be done by use of an air humidifier or a bowl of warm water to create steam in the air around feeding time or sleeping time (place the bowl away from the baby to ensure there is no possibility of burning or scalding).

Saline nasal drops (approx 2 drops into each nostril) are also an option and can be bought in pharmacies. `

These will loosen the mucus in the nose so baby will be better able to clear the nasal passages.

These should generally be used before feeding if you feel your baby has a very blocked nose.

A nasal aspirator can sometimes provide relief for a blocked nose. This should be specially designed for use in babies and can be bought in pharmacies.

This device will use gentle suction to help remove excess mucus from baby’s nose.


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