How to stop a cough in children

Written by laura wilson
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How to stop a cough in children
Some cough syrups have been specially formulated for children. (BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images)

A bad cough can be a nagging problem for a child and his parents. Not only does the child feel unwell, but sleep is usually disrupted due to the cough, which can affect the whole household. Whether a cough is from a cold, flu, allergy or asthma, parents can take steps to ease the child's cough and help him feel better.

Things you need

  • Humidifier
  • Pillows
  • Water bottle
  • Honey

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  1. 1

    Increase the humidity of the air. Often the throat is irritated by dry air, so parents can invest in a humidifier to place in the child's bedroom to raise the humidity level. For a barking cough during the night that won't stop, take the child into the bathroom and run the hot water to create a steamy environment. Keep the child away from the hot water to prevent burns.

  2. 2

    Raise the head of the bed. For a cold or allergies, children often have a post-nasal drip that results in an aggravating tickle in the back of the throat. While this doesn't usually result in a terrible cough, it is irritating enough to bother the child. You can ease this by elevating the child's head slightly. Raise the head of the mattress with some books between the mattress and box spring, or simply slide another pillow under the one the child usually uses.

  3. 3

    Keep a cool drink handy. A stainless steel water bottle filled with some cool water will allow the child to take frequent drinks. Not only will this help soothe the throat and quiet a cough, but it will also help keep her hydrated, which will ultimately lead to a quicker recovery.

  4. 4

    Give a teaspoon of honey. For parents who want to avoid using medication unless absolutely necessary, a recent study showed that when some children were given an over-the-counter cough medicine, and others a teaspoon of honey, the children who took the honey saw more improvement in cough symptoms. Do not give honey to children under one-year-old, due to immature immune systems.

  5. 5

    Call your GP for a cough that persists. While coughs typically go away after a short time, those that continue on need to be checked. Occasionally more serious conditions such as pneumonia, pertussis (whooping cough) or asthma are causing the cough. Doctors may also recommend over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate other symptoms related to the cough. An expectorant for chest congestion, or a nasal decongestant may help, but a doctor should see children regarding dosage information.

Tips and warnings

  • Cough drops may help a child, but parents should not give them to children under three, who could choke on them. Many schools will not allow cough drops, so check school policies before sending them with your child.
  • If you use an over-the-counter medication, read all the ingredients. Multi-symptom cold medicine often treats cough, nasal congestion and fever, so make sure you aren't duplicating and over-medicating a child.

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