Coughs are most disturbing for parents as they seem to interrupt everyone's sleep. But, at the same time, a cough is a protective mechanism to keep the lungs clear and the best thing about children is that they are great coughers!!!
With all of the winter upper respiratory illnesses that are circulating, children of all ages will develop coughs. In most cases the cough will last for a week or two and will improve throughout the course of the illness. The 'junkier' the cough the better. These productive coughs are moving mucus and helping a child keep their chest clear.
I worry about tight, wheezy coughs or coughs that cause any type of respiratory distress. Whenever your child has a cough lift up their shirt and watch them breath. Does it look like they are having difficulty breathing, are they using tummy muscles or the muscles between the ribs to help them breath?
Coughs that make your child turn red are usually good, but any cough that causes a child to turn blue is always bad.
The best treatment for a cough is humidification with a cool mist humidifier or a hot shower or bath before bed. Over the counter medications are not recommended for children under the age of 4.
There have been several studies that say honey has been shown to be as effective as an over the counter cough syrup.
If your child has a persistent cough it is worth a visit to the pediatrician so that they may listen to your child's chest.
Coughs are here for a while, so teach your child to cover their mouths when coughing. With a long season of coughing ahead cough hygiene may be the best thing you can teach your child this winter.
I'm Dr. Sue Hubbard with The Kid's Doctor helping parents take charge.