How can I stop my child from coughing?
Most diseases are self-limiting in a child. Treatment for cough is not recommended unless the cough interferes with the child’s sleep or activity or is accompanied by a fever. Different age groups of children require different therapies to stop them from coughing. A good home remedy is better than over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat cough in children because OTC medicines can cause side effects. Some good home remedies to treat cough in children include
- Honey: Honey thins mucus and makes it easier to cough. However, avoid giving honey to infants who are under one year of age. For children over the age of one year old, give them two to five mL of honey to prevent coughing at night.
- Warm milk: Warm milk with a pinch of turmeric can soothe sore throat as well.
- Give plenty of fluids: Make sure the child remains hydrated because fluid loosens mucus making it easier for the child to cough and blow their nose. For infants under six months of age, give plenty of breast milk or formula to prevent dehydration.
- Use a humidifier: Do not allow the air in your home to dry out. Always use a humidifier to prevent airway dryness.
- Steam inhalation: Inhaling steam may help loosen mucus. Hence, use steam inhalation with your child frequently. Make sure you hold your child while they are inhaling steam because there is a chance that hot water may splash onto them.
- Rest: Give your child plenty of rest to cope with the condition.
- Avoid irritants: Avoid exposing your child to irritants, such as cigarette smoke.
- Warm showers: Taking a warm shower may also prevent airway dryness. Sit with your child in the bathroom for 20 minutes with the door closed while you run a warm shower.
- Relieve congestion: Use saline nose drops in older children. For small children, use a suction bulb to remove mucus from the baby’s nose.
- Exposure to fresh air: Sometimes, brief exposure to outdoor air will help the child to combat a cough. Ensure that you properly dress your child before taking them outdoors.
- Elevate your child’s head while sleeping: This may seem like a good option to prevent mucus from building up, however, consult with a doctor before attempting this method.
- Sucking on a popsicle: This can relieve throat soreness associated with a cough.
- Asthma action plan: Parents of children who have asthma should be ready with an asthma action plan to give the right medicine to their child should they develop asthma symptoms.
- Talking to your doctor: Consult with your physician before giving any OTC cough medicine to your child.
What should you avoid giving a child with a cough?
It’s better to avoid giving children under the age of six years old any type of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines or prescription medicines because they are associated with side effects. For children over the age of six years old, these medicines are safe only when given according to the instructions on the label. Moreover, avoid the following things in a child with cough
- Carbonated or citrus drinks because it may lead to sore throat
- Cough drops or lozenges should not be given to children under the age of three years old because they may end up choking
- Codeine-based cough syrups
- Spicy or oily foods because this may aggravate the condition
- Dry fruits and nuts because they are associated with an increased the risk of choking
- Refined sugar and sweets
- Irritants such as cigarette smoke or other pollutants
When to see a doctor
Consult a doctor immediately if you observe the following symptoms
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Children's Cough Causes and TreatmentsChildren's cough causes include infection, acid reflux, asthma, allergies or sinus infection, whooping cough, and exposure to irritants. Treatment for a child's cough include cough medicine for children over the age of four.
Chronic CoughChronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, cigarette smoking, GERD, postnasal drip, bronchitis, pneumonia, medications, and less frequently tumors or other lung disease.
Chronic cough treatment is based on the cause, but may be soothed natural and home remedies.
Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children
The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.
The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.
The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.
However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).
Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.
FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.
FDA. "Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids." Updated: Nov 04, 2016.
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