Coughs occur quite often among children. Although it may sound alarming, a cough isn’t usually a sign of something serious. It’s actually an important natural reflex that clears the body’s airway, thus protecting the throat and chest.
What’s Causing the Cough?
Still, you can’t help but worry when your child is coughing. You want it treated as soon as possible. The best way to address a cough is to figure out what is causing it.
Here are some questions you can ask to help determine the cause of your child’s cough.
1. Are there any other symptoms?
A runny nose and sneezing fits usually indicate the common cold. If coughing comes with body aches and a fever, then it might be the flu. These are the two most common causes.
2. When did your child start coughing?
The cold and cough season usually takes place in the coldest months of the year. Meanwhile, allergy coughs are most likely to flare up in the spring and fall.
While it makes sense to assume that your child’s cough is stemming from a cold, the flu, or allergies, you should pay attention to how long the cough lingers. About three weeks is normal. If it goes past the eighth week mark, then you’re already dealing with a chronic cough.
3. What does the cough sound like?
The usual cough from colds, allergies, the flu, and the croup sounds like a bark. If your child’s cough has a whooping sound, bring him to the doctor right away as that’s probably pertussis or whooping cough, a potentially fatal childhood disease. If the cough is accompanied by wheezing, then it could be something blocking the airway, possibly asthma or pneumonia.
Treating Your Child’s Cough
For quick cough relief, some cough syrup is probably called for. Keep in mind not to give over-the-counter medicine to children younger than four years old. For the best children’s cough medicine, wait for your doctor’s prescription, so you can also get the correct cough dosage information.
Take note though that a cough caused by a virus cannot be cured by medicine. You just have to let the infection run its course. You can, however, ease your child’s symptoms by applying a few home remedies.
1. Sit in a steamy bathroom with your child.
Close the door, find a seat, either the toilet or the edge of the bath, and then run the hot water in the shower. Stay for about 20 minutes. The steam will help your child breathe more easily. You can read to your child to pass the time.
2. Use a humidifier in your child’s bedroom.
It would help with the dryness in their throat, which could be causing the cough-inducing tickle. Some essential oils, such as eucalyptus or peppermint, added into the water would also help clear blocked airways.
3. Make your child drink lots of water.
Fluids are encouraged, but some may actually aggravate the cough, so it’s best to just stick to water. Hydration is essential to help your sick child regain his health. It also helps flush out the germs in the body.
4. Elevate your child’s head when lying down.
This is even more important when your child is sleeping as nighttime coughing can be so disruptive. When the body is horizontal, mucus or stomach acid tends to pool at the back of the throat, causing the cough reflex. Pile up a couple of pillows and let your child recline against them.
When to Consult a Doctor
Children’s coughs are often caused by common viral infections, but you should be vigilant in monitoring them. If your child has: trouble breathing or is breathing faster than usual; a bluish or dusky tinge on the lips, tongue, or face; a high fever; a funny-sounding cough, or is coughing up blood, waste no time in going to the doctor and getting medical attention for your little one.