Coughs in Children and Infants

Kid_with_CoughWhen it comes to coughs in children, there are two things to remember:

One, if the cough isn’t really bothering your child, such as keeping her from sleeping, then no medicine may be needed. Two, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines usually carry more risks than benefits. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that OTC medicines never be given to children younger than four years of age.

There are many simple yet effective home remedies for coughs and the symptoms of the common cold. For children 1 year and older, a spoonful of honey can provide some relief for sore throats and coughs. But remember, babies and infants can NOT have honey before they turn one due to the possibility of contracting a rare but dangerous condition called infant botulism.

Using a vaporizer at night in the child’s room and elevating the mattress at the head of the bed can help with overnight coughing spells. Sitting in the bathroom with your child with the door closed and hot water running can sometimes help with coughing spasms.

We get a lot of questions about types of coughs and how they sound.

Whooping Cough/Pertussis

The website, pkids.org has a really good example of the “whoop” sound a child with pertussis makes when gasping for breath during a severe coughing attack. Listen here. Note, though, that an infant with pertussis may struggle to cough effectively and not actually make the whooping sound in such a noticeable way.

Croup

This cough has been described as sounding like the barking of a seal and is often accompanied by stridor – a harsh, raspy, high-pitched sound during the inhale between coughs. This video shows a child sleeping and making the stridor sound:

If you are worried about your child’s cough, please call and set up an appointment so we can see and hear the symptoms in person.

If you want more information on coughs and colds, please visit healthychildren.org.