- What You Should Know About Coughs:
- Most coughs are a normal part of a cold.
- Coughing up mucus is very important. It helps protect the lungs from pneumonia.
- A cough can be a good thing. We don't want to fully turn off your child's ability to cough.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Homemade Cough Medicine:
- Goal: decrease the irritation or tickle in the throat that causes a dry cough.
- Age 6 months to 1 year: give warm clear fluids to treat the cough. Examples are apple juice and lemonade. Amount: use a dose of 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL). Give 4 times per day when coughing. Caution: do not use honey until 1 year old.
- Age 1 year and older: use honey ½ to 1 teaspoon (2-5 mL) as needed. It works as a homemade cough medicine. It can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. If you don't have any honey, you can use corn syrup. You can also buy cough products that have honey in them at drug stores. They do not work better than plain honey and cost much more.
- Age 6 years and older: use Cough Drops to decrease the tickle in the throat. If you don't have any, you can use hard candy. Avoid cough drops before 6 years. Reason: risk of choking.
- Non-Prescription Cough Medicine (DM):
- Non-prescription cough medicines are not advised. Reason: no proven benefit for children and not approved under 6 years old (FDA).
- Honey has been shown to work better for coughs. Caution: do not use honey until 1 year old.
- If age 6 years or older, you might decide to use a cough medicine. Choose one with dextromethorphan (DM), such as Robitussin Cough syrup. DM is present in most non-prescription cough syrups. Follow the instructions on the package.
- When to Use: give only for severe coughs that interfere with sleep or school.
- DM Dose: give every 6 to 8 hours as needed.
- Coughing Fits or Spells - Warm Mist and Fluids:
- Breathe warm mist, such as with shower running in a closed bathroom.
- Give warm clear fluids to drink. Examples are apple juice and lemonade.
- Age less than 6 months, only give breast milk or formula.
- Age 6 - 12 months. Give 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) each time. Limit to 4 times per day.
- Age older than 1 year. Can also offer warm lemonade or herbal teas. Amount: a few ounces (30 mL) each time.
- Reason: both relax the airway and loosen up any phlegm.
- Vomiting from Hard Coughing:
- For vomiting that occurs with hard coughing, give smaller amounts per feeding.
- Also, feed more often.
- Reason: vomiting from coughing is more common with a full stomach.
- Encourage Fluids:
- Try to get your child to drink lots of fluids.
- Goal: keep your child well hydrated.
- It also loosens up any phlegm in the lungs. Then it's easier to cough up.
- It also will thin out the mucus discharge from the nose.
- If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier. Reason: dry air makes coughs worse.
- Fever Medicine:
- For fevers above 102° F (39° C), give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
- Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
- Note: fevers less than 102° F (39° C) are important for fighting infections.
- For all fevers: keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids.
- Avoid Tobacco Smoke:
- Tobacco smoke makes coughs much worse.
- Return to School:
- Your child can go back to school after the fever is gone.
- Your child should also feel well enough to join in normal activities.
- For practical purposes, the spread of coughs and colds cannot be prevented.
- Extra Advice- Allergy Medicine for Allergic Cough:
- Allergy medicine can bring an allergic cough under control within 1 hour. The same is true for nasal allergy symptoms.
- A short-acting allergy medicine (such as Benadryl) is helpful. No prescription is needed. Age limit: 1 and older.
- Do not use Benadryl longer than a few days.
- Switch to a long-acting antihistamine, such as Zyrtec. Age limit: 2 and older.
- What to Expect:
- Viral coughs most often last for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Sometimes, your child will cough up lots of phlegm (mucus). The mucus can normally be gray, yellow or green.
- Antibiotics are not helpful.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Trouble breathing occurs
- Wheezing occurs
- Cough lasts more than 3 weeks
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.