Persistent coughs can be bothersome, especially with a child and especially at night. The best treatment for a cough depends on the underlining cause. Coughs play a role in clearing irritants and infection from the body. Children under the age of six should not use over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants. So as a parent, what can we do to help alleviate symptoms for our children. Before we discuss treatment options, lets discuss what can cause a cough in children.
Common Cause of A Cough
- Asthma– A very common reason for coughs. Mucus can build up from narrowing of inflamed air tubes. Usually causing a dry cough with or without wheezing.
- Illness– Many coughs are caused by a post nasal drip from a cold, allergy or sinus issue. It can be a dry or wet cough but it is not felt in the chest. This is generally worse at night. However, an respiratory infection can cause a cough. These can range from a persistent bronchitis like cough to a productive-painful pneumonia cough. These can be felt in the chest and cause shortness of breath. The patient just looks very unwell.
- Acid Reflux– Stomach acid irritation can illicit the nerve endings to cause a cough.
- Allergies– Drainage from congestion that drips down to the throat can cause a wet cough that is worse at night. It is more of a tickle from the throat then felt in the lungs.
- Blood Pressure Medications– PSA for heart babies, ACE inhibitors can trigger a dry cough.
- Second Hand Smoke– Excess mucus in the lungs can cause a wet cough. It is the body’s way of ridding the toxins in the lungs.
The following are a few suggested treatments for a cough…..
Ten at home Treatment Options
- Humidifier Steam from a hot shower will loosen up mucus.
- Raise the head of the bed. Try not to let small children sleep on their back to avoid choking.
- Nasal Spray and Rinse– We use a neti-pot syringe to clear the nasal sinuses. We use a natural nose spray for colds. For allergies, we use a nasal mist with a glucocorticoid (steroid) to help with inflammation causing post nasal drip.
- Lozenges– Look for lozenges with honey, zinc and/or ginger. Not ideal for small children.
- Chest Rub– You can find my recipe and safe to use essential oils here.
- Warms fluids such as tea not only loosen the mucus but also thin these secretions. Most white teas are free of caffeine. However, you can just use warm filtered water with ginger infused. Test the warm water before serving. Bone and chicken broth is also a nutritious way to give warm fluids.
- Honey– Swallow a teaspoon of honey. (This is not for babies younger than 2 years old.). Honey has antibacterial properties and coats the throat.
- Ginger– Has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to boost immunity and relieve discomfort. You can use ginger in tea, capsule form, or chew on a piece of ginger root.
- Thyme– The leaves contain flavanoids that relax and lessen inflammation. You can use thyme in tea or soup.
- Marshmallow Root– Type of herb that soothes the throat reducing irritation caused by a cough. The root and leaf reduce pain and inflammation of mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract by loosening mucus and inhibiting bacteria. Can be used in cough syrup and in lozenges to soothe a dry cough.
Essential oils do not cure. However, they can alleviate symptoms. Here are the few takeaways for essential oils….. Use cautiously with children under the age of 6. Make sure you use a carrier oil. And do not skimp and buy cheap. You pay for what you get with oils. Here are a few essential oils that alleviate a cough.
- Peppermint Oil- Is antibacterial, antiviral, analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Contains menthol used to numb nerve endings in the throat reducing the urge to cough. It can unclog nasal sinuses. Can be used in drinks and as a lozenge.
- Eucalyptus Oil- Antimicrobial and expectorant.
- Black Pepper OIl- Stimulates circulation and mucus flow. Can use in tea or as a chest rub
When to See A Doctor
- Mucus appears yellow or green
- Congestion gets worse
- Shortness or difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
What tried and true cough remedies do you use? Comment below. I am always interested in trying new remedies that work.
*Disclaimer- Please seek health advice from your provider before trying any of the above mentioned supplements. Only you and your provider understand your child’s health history. These supplements are not considered cures for any ailments