Hacking Away at Your Child’s Cough

Every time your child coughs, you feel it in your chest. A coughing child can make for a restless night – not just for parents, but the whole family. According to the Mayo Clinic, the common cold is the number one reason why children miss school, and they can catch as many as six to 10 colds a year. Cough, a major symptom, is one of the most common reasons why parents bring their children to the doctor.

Coughs can be treated fairly easily after a trip to the physician. Although coughs will not always require the intervention of a doctor, many physicians recommend a trip to the physician if the cough persists for more than ten days, if it’s accompanied by fever higher than 101 degrees, or if blood or colored phlegm is associated with it. Wheezing is also a potential indicator that a doctor’s help may be required. Any of these accompanying symptoms could be a sign that a more serious illness is at hand. For less serious coughs, however, not all parents will want or need to make a special trip to the doctor’s office. In those cases, there are things that can be done at home.

The best thing to do is encourage your child to drink water or other healthy liquids so they can stay hydrated and settle down. Liquids can thin mucous secretions, soothing cough. Discourage children from exerting themselves, which can aggravate symptoms. As far as medications go, choose an expectorant instead of a suppressant. While it may seem like your goal should be to get the cough stopped or under control, it’s actually more beneficial if the coughs are productive because it can help clear out the mucous that’s causing problems in the first place. Enduring a cough in the meantime can be frustrating and prevent a good night’s sleep, but there’s something parents can do about that too – a teaspoon of honey. Turns out, grandma was right. According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a teaspoon of honey before bed calms children’s coughs and helps them sleep more soundly by coating the throat to soothe irritation. Honey is also rich in infection-fighting antioxidants and spurs saliva production, which can thin out mucous. Before giving your child medications of any kind, read the labels, especially if your child is younger than the age of six.

While coughs can be frustrating for both parent and child, they are a common ailment that befalls virtually everyone at some point in time. With proper care, they can be treated easily and symptoms can be controlled so your child and family get a good night’s rest. The key to determining the seriousness of your child’s cough is to monitor its frequency, listen for signs of wheezing, and call the doctor if blood or anything else unusual appears in the mucous.  And anytime your child has a high fever along with other symptoms – whether it’s coughing or not – a visit to the family physician might be a good idea.

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