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Coughing in Children – What to Look For, When to See a Doctor and How to Ease Your Child’s Cough With Home Remedies

Coughing can be a common symptom of respiratory infection or illness, but it could also indicate more serious medical conditions. Find out what to look out for and when it’s necessary to visit the doctor as well as home remedies that could ease their cough.

Croup can cause coughs in younger children, often manifested by sudden barky coughing fits that come on suddenly and without warning.

Causes

Coughing is your body’s natural response to infections or irritation entering the lungs. Coughs in children may occur for various reasons; some coughs may only need minor treatment while others require medical intervention right away to help your child feel better.

Coughs are often caused by viral infections like colds or flu. But they may also be triggered by air pollution – in particular tobacco smoke as an agent for coughing, but other fumes like auto exhaust or smog may make coughing worse.

Coughing that produces phlegm or mucus (wet) could be an indicator of bacterial pneumonia infection; your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if this situation persists for extended periods.

If your child is coughing blood or having difficulty breathing, and is unable to catch their breath, contact their physician immediately. He may require a chest X-ray or other tests in order to accurately diagnose what is causing his coughing fit.

Some children may be more sensitive than other kids to irritants, leading them to cough more often or harder than usual. Such kids could have asthma or allergies; their doctors may suggest medications designed to keep irritants at bay.

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Children may unwittingly ingest small objects, like buttons or beads, which become lodged in their throat or esophagus and must be extracted immediately to prevent becoming lodged in your child’s lungs and becoming a serious threat to health.

Your doctor may suggest performing a bronchoscopy to locate where an object has become lodged and remove it, if necessary. This process may be complex and will need expert guidance for optimal success.

No matter the cause, keeping a child hydrated with plenty of fluids such as apple juice or lemonade throughout the day will help soothe their cough by relaxing their airways and breaking up phlegm build-up.

Treatment

Coughing is an important protective reflex, helping your body eliminate mucus, irritating substances and infections from its respiratory tract. Coughs typically go away on their own or through simple home remedies.

If your child’s cough lasts more than two to three weeks or you are concerned about its cause, consult a physician. He or she can perform a physical exam to rule out serious infections such as pneumonia.

Your doctor may recommend medication that suppresses coughing and loosens up phlegm; however, these medicines should not be given to children under six years old.

An irregular, involuntary cough that only manifests at night or upon awakening may be an early warning signal of foreign objects in your child’s lungs. These objects could include food, toys or anything else they inhaled while breathing and are potentially life-threatening if left untreated. Contact 111 immediately if your child has difficulty breathing or turns pale or blue-toned in appearance.

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To soothe a cough, drink plenty of fluids like clear broth, tea or juice. Sucking on hard candies or cough drops may help soothe an irritated throat as well.

Maintain a balanced environment for your child by using a cool-mist humidifier or steamy shower, both of which can help moisten their throat and nose with moist air, thus helping reduce coughing episodes and sickness. Stay clear from smoke as exposure could make your child sicker and cause an increase in coughing episodes.

Start by giving your child plenty of fluids, which will thin the mucus in their throat and can also help loosen up any phlegm that has become lodged there. Give a few ounces every time your child coughs – especially following meals!

Sometimes coughs can be due to acid reflux – or stomach acid moving up into your child’s throat due to blocked lower airways (bronchi). When this occurs, most coughs will resolve once stomach acids move back out again; your child’s physician can run tests to identify if reflux is to blame for his coughing fits.

Prevention

Coughing can be an uncomfortable symptom that signals something more serious in children. If their cough persists beyond its usual duration or is associated with fever, consult your pediatrician about treatment.

Many children experience coughs as part of viral infections like the common cold. Most often, this symptoms subside within a week or two but in rare instances may persist for much longer.

If a cough persists for more than seven days, consult with a pediatrician immediately in order to establish a diagnosis and treatment plan. A physician may also suggest medications to alleviate it.

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A cough may be indicative of allergies or asthma, but it could also indicate other issues; particularly at night when producing mucus or phlegm and becoming particularly bothersome – these could be signs that point toward pneumonia.

In order to prevent a dry cough in your child, encourage her to drink plenty of fluids and maintain clean nasal passages by using saline nose drops or suction bulbs with suction tubes, along with humidifiers, to loosen mucus from her nose and throat and keep airways moist.

Honey can help thin mucus and soothe coughs in children under one year, but should never be given to infants as this could result in infant botulism.

Children older than age 4 may benefit from gargling with salt water or giving hard candies to ease throat discomfort and decrease coughing episodes, but be careful to not give hard candies to younger children as these could pose a choking hazard.

Make sure your child gets plenty of rest, avoiding anything that might irritate their throat such as food or beverages with too much sugar, and speaking with their teachers about taking a sick day or exclusion so as to limit spreading germs to other students.

If your baby or toddler has asthma, consult their physician on an asthma action plan that can help manage coughing. Receiving regular treatments for asthma will reduce how often and for how long your child coughs.