Remedies For A Child’S Cough

Remedies for a Child’s Cough

Children can cough for many different reasons — colds, allergies, or even some types of chronic disease. Coughing is actually a defense mechanism for the body, as it helps the lungs clear out potentially harmful bacteria or other irritants. Although a little coughing may be a good thing, too much can be annoying or even painful for a child, so there are certain remedies you may wish to consider to treat your child’s cough.

Types of Children’s Coughs

There are many different types of coughs your child may be exhibiting. If your child is coughing primarily during the day, it could be a cough triggered by allergies. A nighttime cough could be due to a cold or viral infection, or possibly asthma. A cough that comes on suddenly may indicate that something is caught in your child’s windpipe. A “whooping” sound after coughing could indicate whooping cough (pertussis), and a “barking” type of cough could indicate croup. In most of these instances, you will need to treat the underlying cause in order to cure the cough.

Over-the-Counter and Prescription Remedies

Cough syrups contain ingredients such as dextromethorphan, codeine and hydrocodone (the latter two found in prescription medications). These are meant to suppress the coughing. Multi-symptom remedies contain medications to treat a variety of symptoms, including coughing. Most children’s medications contain acetaminophen and should not be given alongside other medications containing acetaminophen as there is danger of overdose. Decongestant medications meant to relieve the stuffy nose that often accompanies a child’s cough include ingredients such as phenylephrine and oxymetazoline.

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Potential Hazards

The Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory in 2008 concerning the use of prescription and over-the-counter cough remedies in children. They warned that cough medicines should never be administered to children under 2 years of age unless a medicine is specifically prescribed for a child by his health care provider. In children under 2, cough medicines have been linked to a high instance of hypertension and stroke. The FDA further warned that precautions be taken even with older children, such as strictly adhering to product guidelines for dosage and measuring medications with droppers or dosing spoons instead of household spoons.

Home Remedies

Honey can be given to children over the age of 1 to soothe a cough. Tea with honey and lemon or a mug of honey-sweetened hot lemonade add the extra healing power of vitamin C and the soothing of a warm beverage. Teas made from onions, garlic and ginger are also recommended as home cough remedies, but they may not be pleasing to children. Home remedies involving any type of alcohol should be avoided.

Lifestyle Changes

Keeping a coughing child well-hydrated is important, so push water, juice and clear broth. A child with a chronic cough should not be exposed to allergens such as dust or smoke. Keeping the temperature in the house on the cool side can help, but the report is mixed on the use of home humidifiers. While dry air can certainly exacerbate a cough, humidifiers are often a breeding ground for germs.