Cough Solutions for young children
Kate came into the pharmacy with her children explaining that both her 1 and 4-year-old, are suffering from colds, bothered by nasal congestion and cough. Kate mentioned that she has been to the doctor but the Dr explained that both of her children have viral infections, and require symptom management with Paracetamol if needed and a saline nasal spray for the congestion. The doctor also mentioned if there is no improvement within 48 hours to come back.
Kate has given her children some Paracetamol to help with the fever but asked if I could recommend anything else to help especially with their coughs.
It was discussed with Kate that often a virus causing a cold may start out as congestion in the nasal passage and then often the excess fluid will drip down the back of the throat, irritating the airways and causing a cough.This is known as a ‘post nasal drip’ which tends to cause a ‘dry irritating cough. A cough can be ‘dry’ or ‘wet/moist/phlegmy’ or it can be a combination of both.
Often by the morning, a phlegmy sounding cough arises, as the body is trying to expel the buildup of mucus from your child lying flat during the night and once they are upright, it’s their bodies natural response to bring what is ‘sitting on the chest’ up and out.
There are a couple of gentle medicines that will help with:
- The post nasal drip
- ‘The cough ’
The following is what was recommended to Kate:
Nasal saline spray – A nasal saline spray such a Flo® or Fess® are very helpful in thinning the consistency of the mucus. We want to keep the mucus thin and runny in order to allow the mucus to naturally move down the throat. The more frequently we use the spray the less chance the mucus builds up to become thick and tenacious. Once the mucus becomes thick it is very difficult to shift. The nasal sprays/drops do come in a few different brands eg Fess®, Flo®. I also recommended giving it to Kate’s baby 10 minutes before and during a feed to ensure their nose isn’t blocked whilst feeding. My personal preference for a baby is the Flo brand of saline sprays, because it’s a gentle spray or drop, you can spray it at any angle, you don’t need an aspirator, it’s preservative free and the design of the bottle is easy to hold and use whilst trying to give it to a baby or child.
Also to help mucus drain down the throat you can try keeping baby/child in a more upright position. A baby may feed a little less while he or she is congested. This is because the mucus they’re swallowing away is filling their tummy a little. And sometimes mucus acts as a bit of an irritant to babies’ tummies, so their appetite might drop off. It’s nothing to worry about: they just might appreciate shorter but more frequent feeds for a day or so.
Cough syrup – When asking Kate about her children’s cough she did say sometimes it was productive where she could hear mucus being coughed up and that was mainly during the night and morning but during the day it was quite dry. You shouldn’t aim to suppress moist coughs, otherwise mucus clings on and that can result in obstructed airways, and even pneumonia. A cough medicine known as Hedera helix (Ivy leaf extract), brands include: Prospan® and Little coughs® help to thin and loosen mucus so that your baby/child can cough up the mucus and get it off their chest. It also has a soothing effect on the airways and stops the cough that ‘hurts’ whilst relaxes the airways. It has been proven to be effective and It can be used in infants from 6 months old and is the only cough medicine available and safe for children under 6 years of age. I notice in my children after I give them a dose of the Ivy Leaf extract, they initially cough a little more to expel what was sitting in their airways and then I find they have a peaceful night sleep with the odd cough here and there. DuroTuss® recently bought out a cough syrup which contains this ingredient together with Lactoferrin-Bovine (Dairy). Lactoferrin-Bovine is a natural Immunity booster which helps the body fight viruses and infections.
Vaporizer – Using a vaporizer in your baby’s room whilst they are sleeping allows for a more peaceful nights sleep. In children under 2 years, I would recommend just water in the vaporizer as the steam is what makes the child breathe easier and I would not recommend the use of menthol/eucalyptus inhalant liquids in the vaporizer until your baby is over 2 years of age, due to the risk of the eucalyptus concentration building up in the room. I would also highly recommend especially on cold nights, if you have central heating, set your child’s bedroom temperature to around 19-20 degrees, it stops the cold air hitting the lungs and tightening. When moist, warm air enters the lungs it helps to ‘liquefy’ mucus secretions and phlegm, making it easier to expel and breathe. There are different brands of vaporizers available on the market, Vicks® and Eukybear® both make them. I have both at home and they both are as effective as each other.
Eucalyptus baby balsam (ie. Vick’s® baby balsam) can be used from 3 months of age. It contains very low concentrations of eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, and aloe vera. Rubbing the balm on your child’s chest or on the side of child’s pajamas works really well to relieve a blocked nose. Also rubbing the balm on your child’s feet and putting on socks helps to relieve a cough.
Honey – Once your child is over one year of age you can give them a teaspoon of honey to coat the lining of the throat. This can help to reduce the tickle which sets off a cough. Even make your own cough mixture with some warm water, a teaspoon of honey and squeeze some lemon juice.
Fluids – Staying hydrated is very important when fighting infections (especially if your child has a fever) ie plenty of water, nice warm chicken soup, vitamin C packed fresh juices etc.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on how to boost your child’s immunity including the exact products and methods I use to help my children throughout winter.
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also, if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was, or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.
Disclaimer – The material on this blog is only to be used for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before applying the methods, medicines, techniques or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. The names of people mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect the real patient’s confidentiality.